On August 4, 2012, my grandfather passed away at the age of 81 as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.  I’m not quite used to coping with death in the family. The last time a close family member passed away was when my aunt died in a car accident in 1996. I was very young when my aunt passed away and I still hope of seeing her again some day, which is never going to happen. It’ll be especially difficult to let go of my grandfather because I have so many fond memories of him.

I wrote the following message to include in the funeral program:

Grandpa was an amazing person, never too busy for his grandchildren. Visiting grandpa was like going on a mini holiday; he’d always have something fun for us to do. I’ll never forget the nature hikes, table tennis, or even collecting bullet caps at a shooting range when we were younger. There was never a dull moment. He would always find a way to entertain us, make us laugh and help us forget about our worries, even if only for a little while. I will forever cherish the great memories that we have. I love you grandpa! Huge & kisses- David.

It’s funny how something so small and non-glamorous like collecting empty bullet caps at the shooting range with grandpa in my pre-teen years could be burned into my memory as one of the most exiting days of my childhood. Perhaps it was because he knew how to make everything fun and interesting. My grandfather could turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

I see now why so many people hold onto religion and the concept of a possible after-life because it is really difficult to accept the fact that you will never see a loved one again. The truth is however, that once a loved one has passed away it is over, forever. You will never see them again. There is no heaven. There is no hell. There will be no magical return of Jesus Christ to wake the dead and re-unite friends and families. Death is the end of all ends and I think that I’m probably the only person in my family who does not believe in the false hope provided by stories of resurrection or the after-life.

Due to conflicting beliefs, I won’t be joining my family for the mourning service. I will however, attend the burial which will hopefully be a lot less religious. Perhaps it may seem selfish of me to put my disdain for ignorance/religion before everything else but, I just cannot deal with people building up false hope for one day re-uniting with dead loved ones. Such false hope is wrong and misleading. Grandpa is gone and he’s never coming back. There are better ways to seek comfort than to mock the dead with false hope of return.

The only thing left to do is to look back, celebrate the life that was lived, and then to say goodbye.

I now know what it feels like to lose a loved-one to Alzheimer’s disease and my heart goes out to all those who’ve experienced a similar loss. The best comfort you will receive is to rejoice in the good memories you have with the person. Celebrate the life that was lived and look at it with gratitude rather than regret; Gratitude that you’ve had the opportunity to share experiences with a wonderful person, and comfort in knowing those memories will live on in your thoughts.

Goodbye grandpa, you will not be forgotten.

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