Sudden and Unexpected

My aunt died last week. She was my godmother, my mother’s closest sister. Our families have always been close.

Her death was very sudden and unexpected. She went to the restroom and her husband found her on the floor. He is a doctor and tried to resuscitate her, but there was nothing he could do.

An autopsy later revealed she had cardiomyopathy–her heart was enlarged and the thickness of the muscles impeded the electrical impulses that must fire between the two sides of the heart. She died of a heart attack. She was 68.

My uncle and my aunt were always very close. They had been married 46 years. She worked as a secretary at his office when the children were older. Their three sons have five children between them. My uncle just retired last year; they had big plans to travel together, to spend weeks and months with their grandchildren.

My mom retires in one year. She had big plans to visit her sister, her best friend, a couple times a year.

Now she’s gone.

My aunt was a really wonderful woman, so caring and so kind. She was always ready to listen, she always said the right thing, and she always wore a smile. I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that I’ll never see her again.

My uncle is absolutely devastated. My mom is a mess. We found out Saturday morning. The funeral was Wednesday. My mom and dad flew out Sunday. My sister and I flew out Tuesday morning.

Tuesday night was the viewing/visitation. The line to offer condolences was three hours long. A lot of people had to sign the guest book and leave, they couldn’t stay that long. It started at 3:00 in the afternoon and we had to lock up ourselves at 10:30pm.

Wednesday was the funeral mass, the burial, the reception, dinner at my uncle’s house.

Thursday morning my sister and I flew home.

Today I’m back at work. I hoped the funeral would bring more of a sense of closure, but I was always between my mother and sister, holding them both up, and I never felt there was space for me to really express my own grief. I suppose I’ll be working through it for a while.

On Thursday morning I ended up in my uncle’s car as he called his home number trying to reach his son. When no one answered the answering machine picked up and I heard my aunt’s voice for the last time.

Grief is a hollow space in my chest and hot tears on my cheeks.

I miss you Aunt Mary. I’m sorry I never got a chance to say goodbye.


  1. As I said earlier this week, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Loss & grief are so incredibly difficult to go through. Give yourself grace as you work through this time of your life. <3

  2. I’m really sorry to hear you’ve lost your aunt. I hope you find a little space to grieve. Be kind to yourself. And yes, it’ll be a while before your head and heart catch up with the new reality that she isn’t here. A good reminder for us to appreciates what and who we have right now. Hugs.

  3. I’m so sorry Noemi. Thinking of you during this time as you process this unexpected tragedy. May you find the time and space to grieve and heal.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Your aunt sounds like a delightful presence in your and your family members’ lives and while I’m glad she was part of them for so long I’m sorry to learn of her sudden and unexpected death.

  5. I’m so sorry that you’re all going through this, and that you were the support who didn’t get to grieve. That’s a tough spot to be in. I think of you a lot, I know that you and your aunt were very close.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. Give yourself as much time and space as you need to grieve. It’s not a linear process, and there’s no schedule for when you should be done grieving. It’s something you just have to carry with you always. I hope you and your family can offer and receive the support you all need to carry that weight. Wrapping you in love…

  7. Many hugs to you all in this rotten time. I’m so sorry for your loss and so sorry there are no proper words, only echoing hollow platitudes (or maybe it’s just me that hears the echoes behind “I’m so sorry”).

  8. Many, many hugs. I didn’t know her but the part where you wrote about how the lines were long and people wanting to wish their condolences…just made me smile and really tells a story about how she lived and touched other peoples lives. Just wow.
    Take some time, although hard, to grieve for yourself. It’s important. Sending you support.

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