4 Lessons On Grace Learned From My Grandmother’s Life… And Death

My grandmother was definitely not a saint.

She cursed often, told dirty jokes to your children, watched Jerry Springer with me often as a young child, and there was a longtime running rumor of her breaking her pinky while chasing my uncle around the backyard with a broomstick.

She would have turned 90 in one month, and I was intending to come and celebrate with her and see her for the first time in 3 years.

Unfortunately, she suddenly passed very recently, just before the holidays. 

My grandma and I had a very close, sweet relationship. She told me I was her favorite granddaughter every time I saw her (I was her only granddaughter).

Punny and unsaintly as she was, my grandmother was a teacher, an elder, and a woman who modeled a deep sense of grace in her life, and in her death.

If you asked me to define grace, I would tell you that it’s elegant, refined, sweet, and also mindful, thoughtful, and presenceful.

It’s more of a verb than an adjective. It’s divine, yet it reminds us of our capacity as humans to be pure love. Everyone defines grace differently, and I’m learning what it means to practice grace more and more with my grandmother’s passing. 

These are the 4 lessons in grace I received from my grandmother:

Grace isn’t who you are, it’s what you choose to do

If there’s one thing my grandmother taught me about grace more than anything else, it’s that it doesn’t matter where you came from, or even who you are. Anyone and everyone has the capacity to practice grace. For me, it’s simply an invitation into depth, peace, refinement, effortlessness, respect, and beauty, in everything we do. No matter what.

My favorite memories of my grandmother are the countless hours she would color with me, play “dentist” and “hair dresser” with me, go on the same walks with me multiple times a day, and never lose her temper with me. She simply emanated grace and patience through it all. When I am a grandmother one day, I hope to practice the same patience and grace with my grandchildren. 


Grace is what you do when no one is watching

In all the years I contemplated my grandmother’s passing, I always imagined her being surrounded by us, her family. However, my grandmother passed quite unexpectedly, in her sleep. When my mom found her, the degree of peace she saw on her face and in her posture overwhelmed her with love and gratitude. 

She described my grandmother as looking so beautiful and peaceful that it actually made her happy to see my grandmother like this. Even in her death, she emanated pure peace and grace, like a true, radiant example of a woman. 


Grace is thoughtful

No one saw my grandmother’s death approaching. Yet, on the day of her passing, my grandmother asked my uncle to pay all her bills before the evening came. He wasn’t sure why she was so set on paying all her bills late that night after dinner, but he did as she asked. 

I’m not sure if my grandmother knew she was going to transition the day she did, but I’d like to believe that. Maybe I’m romanticizing, but regardless if I am, I will integrate this level of mindfulness into my own life. What I took from this experience was that grace requires a sort of thoughtfulness and deeper awareness. Even when life is passing me by, Grace comes in and invites us to be present and pay the bills, sweeps the floors, and makes the bed. 


Grace has the capacity to heal

To hold the energy of grace through life’s tougher moments, we inspire not only ourselves, but others as well. We heal through grace, in grace. Grace is like God touching down on Earth in our darkest shadows through a gentle kiss on our foreheads. Grace heals the deepest hurts. The hardest pain. Grace is the look up, towards the light. It’s remembering who we are.

After my grandmother’s passing, my family, who had become estranged from each other for quite some time, came together again. We all learned that all the grudges we held against each other, my grandmother never held.

She loved us all, despite everything we “did” to each other. And so we all unanimously decided to love each other in the same way that my grandmother loved us all. And that was truly life changing and healing for everyone. 


I will always remember my grandmother’s sweet smile, her tuna salad with smashed peas recipe, her hilarious TV show choices, and her heart of gold. She was the one woman who taught me unconditional love more than anyone else ever could. I love my grandmother more than I’ve ever loved another human being. And I’m so grateful for every moment we spent together. This tribute is certainly not enough to describe her way of beauty. Words never will. 

But for now,  I say:

Rest in power, peace and love to my grandmother, Elizabeth “Betty” Roberts.

January 24th, 1932 – December 9th, 2021.

What lessons have you learned from those who have passed that you hold near and dear? Share them with us in the comments below!

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