I was seated in an airplane going to Manila and the clouds looked so heavy that it seemed to reflect how I felt about my grandmother’s death. It was three days before that trip when my aunt had called us up to give the devastating news. My Lola Maria, as we used to call her, passed away due to complications of her diabetes. As we arrived at the NAIA, I started to feel really weird, like I did not even bother to look around me. I was simply going with the flow until we arrived at my aunt’s house. Still outside their house, I started to feel fear inside me. Fear for myself that maybe I could not bear the pain of being at her wake. I was so confused that at one point I struggled with feeling numb.
Outside their house, there were many people seated on the chairs, chatting and just doing the usual things Filipinos do. Most of the adults were playing cards and gambling, which is really one of the Filipino traditions during a wake that I do not understand. I felt disappointed at that time because I knew that my grandmother wouldn’t have approved of it. As Adventists, we are discouraged to engage in any kind of gambling, but because it was my aunt’s husband’s house, we could not complain. As we passed through the crowd of people and finally got inside the house, the first thing that I saw was my grandma’s coffin. I felt like my surroundings were gloomier than ever before.
When I was in front of her casket, I started to feel my tears pouring down my face. All the emotions that I had been hiding for the last days started to show. Her face looked calm and she seemed like she was just sleeping. I imagined that she had not suffered too much before she died.
On the day of her burial, we were all wearing white clothes and before we headed to the cemetery, we had a little prayer service in the house. When the casket had been carried outside the house, my aunt Minda told us her superstitious belief that we should not come back inside until we have buried the body. I didn’t understand the significance, but we observed it anyway. The burial turned out to be the hardest part of losing Mary.
Today I know that pain is just part of the whole process when someone close to you dies. I also know that pain will lessen in time until all you can remember are the good times with the person. Yes. Because in fact, that is what we all should do.
Jilah Kristine Mae Mayola is a BS Biology student from UP Mindanao.