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“There are no words”: Acts of love in grief

By Camille Ramdial-Cumberbatch

I collected my husband, Mike’s ashes on Friday, April 20, 2024, almost one month after his cremation. As the funeral representative sensitively brought the urn to me, my tears started to flow. I said to her, “There are no words.” No words could express how I was feeling at that time. How does one say: ‘Thank you for giving me my husband’s ashes’?

Thankfully she was empathetic, so as I looked at her with tearful eyes, she responded compassionately, “I understand.”

As I walked out of the funeral home, I felt as if it was the day of the cremation all over again. I did not walk out of the building holding my husband’s arm but was in fact leaving with his ashes in an urn, tucked in my arms. The tears of pain flowed freely from my eyes, as I felt the agony of losing him all over again.

Afterwards, as I reflected on that brief interaction with her, it brought to mind all the many ways others have also wordlessly expressed their love and compassion to my son Joshua and me, during this time. I always say Trinbagonians are beautiful, joyful, loving people and their acts of love to us further cemented this perspective in my heart.

Since my husband’s hospitalisation and subsequent passing close to two months ago, my friends, family, and even strangers continue to share many acts of love, which give me strength to deal with the emotions and daily issues, that arise.

Firstly, for close to two months I did not cook in my kitchen, which is an anomaly for me. My friends and family know how much I love food and how important food is to my mental and emotional well-being. So what did they do? They fed me! My sisters, who live two houses away from me, provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They took care of us, as they realised I did not have the energy, interest, or the ability to cook for Joshua and me. One of my best friends of 35 years from Point Fortin, brought lunch one Sunday for us, enough food for three days. A priceless gift to me.

Other tangible acts of love include:

Ø One of my sisters chauffeuring me to and from the hospital, so I would have company on those trips.

Ø During eight nights of wake, my nieces took control of my kitchen and organised the preparation and serving of the refreshments every night. They ‘bossed’ me out asking me, “Aunty Camille, what are you doing in the kitchen? Ent you know we are in charge?” This was their loving way of saying to me, ‘Take a break, don’t worry; we have this under control.’ This helped me learn the importance of accepting help and giving up control.

Ø Joshua’s friends and family being present to comfort him in their own way.

Ø Presentation College Bereavement Ministry leading a prayer service one night, with almost 15 staff members showing up to pray and praise.

Ø People bringing things daily and nightly: coolers, beverages, sweet bread, sandwiches, Indian delicacies, gift baskets, flowers, gift plants, cups, plates, napkins, etc.

Ø One of the simplest yet powerful acts of love I valued was a hug! I felt comforted, strengthened, and supported by the many wordless hugs I received.

Friends also showed and still show their love by spending time with me, coming from abroad, washing my dirty wares, ironing clothes, talking, listening, laughing, and praying. They allow me to cry, reminisce, reflect and to discharge negative thoughts and energies. Some share their own grief experiences which help prepare me for my new normal. Even now, my clients and team members give me time and show patience, understanding I may not be at my best, right now.

My experience has also made me realise that there are many persons experiencing grief in our circles. Consequently, I hope my sharing has helped for when you may not have the words to express how you feel or the words that others in grief may need to hear, at that point in time. Maybe you can choose a little act of kindness that can help make your love visible to them

Believe me, it will be remembered and treasured, as the adage says it best “Actions speak louder than words”.