Where Do Grandpas Go When They Die?


Have you ever had the honor of watching someone die? Not violently, but slow, steady, and relatively peacefully. Surrounded by loved ones.

Nearly three weeks ago I got to watch as my Grandpa left this body for the great mystery of afterlife. He had suffered a stroke on a Thursday. Began to dwindle on Friday. And by Saturday, was gone.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with him the week before his stroke, the day of, and the day after. Even that first night in the hospital, he was still full of his boisterous nature and tenaciousness. He couldn’t talk and his right side was almost completely immobile, but ‘He’ was still there. By the time I got to his bedside on Saturday he had already slipped away. I didn’t arrive much after his official time of death, but already he was no longer ‘Grandpa.’ His body was present, but all that was ‘Grandpa’ was gone. I was amazed at how quickly his body went from alive to empty. His color drained. His animation was gone. And it all happened in an instant…with his final exhale.

My yoga practice has placed me ever more in touch with the power of my breath. Breath is my way through a challenging pose, through struggles in my life, and through an overactive mind. My breath awareness can offer me an instant or an hour of respite, ease, and peace. It is my go-to meditation. When I bring awareness to my breath I instantly begin the process of becoming softer, lighter, and more relaxed. But more important than all of this, my breath is my life. I believe it contains my spirit, my soul, my connection to God, and my connection to all of you.

Thousands of years of religious, spiritual, and cultural practices have in some way honored the importance and magic of breath. To name a few, the Bible speaks of ‘The Breath of God’, In Judaism the name Yahweh is literally the sound of breath, and many Native American prayers reference a Great Spirit whose voice is heard on the wind and whose breath gives life to the world. In a society where we demand answers and are hungry for more and more information I can understand why experiencing God as breath may not seem like enough. Yet, I am convinced God really is that accessible. Why wouldn’t she be? Linking us all together, one breath in and one breath out at a time.

I grieve the loss of my Grandpa, but I believe with all my heart that he is still around me. More now perhaps, than ever. I can call upon a memory of him, take a deep breath, and feel instant connection. Not because I’m a weird newager, but because of the faith I have in the mysterious power of breath. It is a Godforce (my word), uniting us in life and surrounding us when life ends. While I may not know the exact location of where Grandpas go when they die, I’m convinced they are really only a breath away.

*{If the title of my post has the song, Lake of Fire, by Nirvana stuck in your head you’re not alone. I’ve been singing this title to that tune for weeks now. I’ve also had Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer caught in my head. My Grandpa’s name was Rudolph 🙂 }*


3 responses »

  1. Amber,
    I shared my sister’s journey with cancer and spent every Tuesday with her when after a long attempt at treatment she chose to stop. I was so blessed and still am by her, with her and the gift she gave me. It forever changed my life. I saw true beauty, grace and trust in her soul. That was over 15 years ago and it still is a part of me that made me a better person too. My practice has brought even more “centerness” to my being. Where I am truly more in-tune with my soul – where body meets soul – right? 🙂

    I hope you and your little love are well and all the best to you and your family.
    Carla J ❤

  2. “Love is watching someone die.” This is the last line in the song “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie. I can’t help but think of those lyrics and song when being such a witness. Watching someone die, whether it’s a loved one or a stranger, is one of the most peaceful and beautiful things in this life.

  3. Amber,
    I am sorry that your Grandpa Rudolph has moved on to another place and away from you and your family. My love, thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

    What a lovely tribute to him. “Have you ever had the HONOR of watching someone die”. Whoa, never thought of it that way…Powerful. And, “Why wouldn’t she be?”…Amen Sister.

    You have a wonderful way with words, I so enjoy reading your posts. Plus I’ve been meaning say THANK YOU to you because every time “Real Yogis Say ‘%#@!” pops up in my email inbox it makes me smile. Take care. XO Margaux

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