§ We came to this world to LIVE OUT LOUD!

What Got Me Through the Hardest of Times

Jul 26, 2022

This blog post was originally posted on Feb 4th, 2020. I’m reposting it due to its popularity and to honor my passion to spend as much time with my family as possible over the summer months.

I want to share with you a very personal story.

Seven years ago, my beloved grandmother passed away.
She had lived with Leukemia for over 20 years and at the age of 90, refused to undergo any more chemotherapy.
For me, my grandmother was the heart of our family. Her love for me was unconditional and I loved her fiercely in return.
Throughout college and my adult life, we spoke pretty much every day on the phone. No matter where I was living, I made it a point to travel back to Chicago every 2 to 3 months to see her. She was a very important part of my life.
From the time my grandmother was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 68, I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I just couldn’t deal with the prospect of her dying someday.
My grandmother’s health really declined in her last year of life. She had recurrent respiratory infections and was just exhausted by the constant rounds of tests and medical treatments. My mom and I started to realize that my grandmother was probably going to transition sooner rather than later.

It was painful yet I felt strangely at peace.

A couple of weeks before my grandmother died, I left my family and young children and flew from South America to Chicago. Even though my grandmother was stable and completely lucid, I had a gut feeling that it was important to see her.

As I was talking to her in my mother’s living room, my grandmother suddenly complained of shortness of breath. I called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital.

At the hospital, we found out that her lungs were full of liquid and that the end was near unless she wanted to keep fighting.
She didn’t.

I slept in my grandmother’s hospital room all week.

I held my grandmother’s hand as nurses poked and prodded her while she begged them to just leave her in peace. I ran interference and sent the nurses away. 

I talked to the endless stream of specialists who stopped by my grandmother’s room. I had to send many of them away too. My grandmother was a cardiologist and loved her calling but she was done fighting and didn’t want any more medical treatments. She just wanted to spend her last days in peace.

I spoke to the hospice workers and the hospital chaplain. I cried on her shoulder.

And yet, strangely through it all, I was at peace.

Nobody knew how long my grandmother would hang on. The doctors said that it could be a couple of weeks or a month. I had young children back at home and my husband had to travel for work. He had already postponed his trip as long as he could.

It was with a heavy heart that I got on a plane to Colombia asking my mom to promise me that she would tell me when it was time for me to fly back out.

I spoke to my grandma on the phone every day until one day two weeks later, I received a frantic call from my mom,“Come. I don’t think she has much time left.”

I got on the next plane and was there by the following morning. I took a taxi to my parents’ house. I rushed into my grandmother’s bedroom.

And I realized that she was no longer alive.
My dad was home taking care of her and he had just stepped out 5 minutes earlier to take a phone call.
My grandmother died a few minutes before I got there.
I was in shock. I so wanted to be there when she transitioned.

And yet, I was strangely at peace.

The week that followed was full of funeral arrangements, logistics and supporting my mom, my grandmother’s only child, through her grief.

I was grieving too but I was strangely at peace.

To this day, seven years later, I miss my grandmother but I’m at peace.

This is the power of meditation.

Even though I have meditated most of my adult life, I went through a year where I meditated up to two hours a day.

I started the heavy duty meditating about six months before my grandmother died. I’m 100% sure that this is why I was at peace no matter what was going on around me.

I have to confess that as I have started to work more over the past couple of years, my meditation practice has dwindled to 20-30 minutes per day.

I’m ok with that. It’s all I can do now.

But it feels really great to know that if and when I need it, meditation is there to get me through the toughest of times… not only to survive but to have inner peace.

What about you? Do you meditate? How do you cultivate inner peace?

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need any further info at natalie@nataliematushenko.com.


Happy Tuesday!




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