When I was very young, my mom and I listened to Pink’s song, Dear Diary, and when my mom heard the words “I’ve got a guardian angel tattooed on my shoulder, she’s been watching over me,” she said that one day we would have to do that. Well, mom still hasn’t gotten the tattoo on her shoulder, but this weekend, I had my grandmother’s initials (in her handwriting) along with her favorite bird and flowers (because every time I see one I think of her) tattooed on my shoulder. (The initials are backwards because I had to use the mirror…so emo, I know…haha)
Tattoo artist: Jason Camfiord -- Hybrid Tattoo, Woodbridge, VA
I’ll never forget the day, working at Giorgio’s Restaurant my junior year of high school, that I got a phone call from my mom saying, “Kell, we need to go to the hospital. Grandma Finnegan is very sick and we’re not sure if she’s going to make it.” I rushed out of work immediately. I remember standing in the room with my older sister, holding my grandmother’s hand and kissing her forehead. A few days later, Grandma was out of the hospital and being transported to a nursing home where her Alzheimer’s symptoms could better be treated and controlled. Other than being confined to a wheel chair, she seemed just fine.
Me, Grandma, & my brother, James
As the years went by, however, Grandma’s condition continued to worsen. It started with hallucinations, imagining that people were in the room or believing that she had gone to visit Diana (my sister), or someone else. Eventually, she needed help with tasks such as getting up and into her chair, using the restroom, and showering. Her speech started to make less and less sense…she would say a bunch of random words that didn’t make a sensible sentence. By the last year, she could only mumble sounds and eventually, it seemed that she could barely acknowledge someone’s presence in the room.
Family picture -- (From top left) Me, brother James, brother-in-law Chris, Dad, niece Jaden, Grandma, and sister Diana with "Spike"
The first time I went to visit her following my engagement, I was so excited to see her and tell her. I had already made up my mind…I would pay any amount of money to hire a nurse so that I could have my grandmother at my wedding. That day, however, I left in tears. It was the first time I really realized how sick she was and realized that she would never see me get married. I was heartbroken. She passed away on March 28, 2010, just two months shy of my college graduation. Now, I will always have my guardian angel on my shoulder.
It’s very sad & emotional when someone you love and care about so dearly cannot be there (physically) for one of the biggest days of your lives. However, there are so many ways to honor and remember lost loved ones on your wedding day. Bridget Mora explains that it is important, though, that you maintain a careful balance. “You want to find a way to do it that is upbeat, so you do not turn a joyous occasion into a somber one…Also, take into consideration the feelings of any wedding guests who were also close to the departed; it might be a good idea to let them know your plans in advance, so they are not overcome with emotion on the wedding day” (Source).
Here are some ideas for paying tribute to lost loved ones on your wedding day:
1). Flowers –Place a white rose (or any kind of flowers) in an empty chair as you walk down the altar
2). Remembrance Tables — Place a photo of your loved one on a table…many couples put out old wedding photos of loved ones.
3). Loving Words — Include something in your program or ask your Officiant to say a few words during the ceremony.
4). Music — Have a special song played or sung in memory of the person or do your first dance to the same song that he or she had at their wedding.
5). Food — Make a favorite food or drink that reminds you of the person (i.e. a famous family recipe, etc.)
6). Donations — If you lost someone to a physical illness, such as Alzheimer’s or breast cancer, place a donation in the person’s honor in lieu of favors.
7). Symbols — Jewelry, such as a locket or old pearls…these can also be attached to your bouquet for a special touch; clothing, such as a veil or wedding dress…or tuxes or cufflinks
8). Candle-lighting — Light a candle in memory of the loved on or have family members light your unity candle for those who cannot be there.
9). Customs/Traditions — Honor old customs and traditions in remembrance of them (i.e. something that celebrates their heritage).
More to come about my crazy weekend in the next few days, including a “Real Wedding!”
Honoring Departed Loved Ones in Your Wedding (Bridget Mora)
Honoring the Deceased During the Wedding Ceremony
Remembering Loved Ones at Your Wedding
**Miss you Grandma. Always in my heart. I know you’re watching over me!**