Grief is a grave. It’s a hole that deepens with every passing feeling of guilt. We bury ourselves with hypothetical questions. What if I had been there? What if I had done more? What if, what if, what if.
The truth is, when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, these “passing thoughts” aren’t passing at all. They cling to us. They weigh us down. And then, when we’re finally able to open our eyes, we see the vastness of the hole we’ve dug and the notion of ever climbing out of it seems impossible.
That’s grief—as we understand it, anyway. And once we understand grief, we can begin to remedy it.
We want to share a story with you about two sisters—Melinda and Melissa—whose parents passed within eight days of each other. Although both women experienced the same loss, they grieved differently. These remarkable sisters opened up about their individual grief journeys and shared how creating diamonds from their parents’ ashes helped them bring brightness and meaning to loss.
Meet Benny - The Storyteller
“Dad was the talker, the storyteller. He would always tell us stories about him growing up, like how he was embarrassed on his first day of school because he didn’t speak English and some of the kids made fun of him.”
Benny may not have started out a wealthy man, but he was always rich in stories.
He shared with his children the value of hard work, often reminiscing about his years as a migrant worker. Throughout his childhood, his family traveled north to pick cotton, where they stayed in a house with four other families, each crammed into their own room. They were penniless. And with nine other siblings, they had only one pair of gloves between them. Whoever picked the most cotton earned the privilege to wear the gloves.
Something they will never forget about their dad is: “He whistled,” laughs Melissa. “He had this distinct whistle that said, ‘Okay, let’s go!’ or ‘Come and eat!’”
“One whistle spoke volumes,” agrees Melinda.
Meet Rosa - The Nurturer
As early as her teenage years, Rosa was a caregiver. Raised by her grandparents as an only child, she grew up quite differently than Benny. When her grandfather suffered a stroke her junior year of high school, she quit school to take care of him.
“She was our mom, but she was also, in a way, everyone’s mom. She was an extended mother to her nieces and nephews, she was that nana who spoiled her grandchildren, and she will be remembered by all who knew her as Mom. And for being a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.”
Benny & Rosa: Soulmates
“Our parents were the model couple,” shares Melinda. “Up until their deaths, they were the only ones still married out of all their siblings, and they did everything together.”
Benny and Rosa grew up together in a small town near Corpus Christi, Texas. In fact, Rosa’s step-grandmother (who raised her alongside her grandfather) told a young Rosa that Benny was the one she would marry.
And she was right!
After Benny and Rosa married, they had two daughters and a son.
Benny and Rosa loved to dance.
“If there was a dance floor, they were on it,” says Melissa. “I had a dream about them, after they passed. They were dancing. I went up and danced with them. I woke up crying because I was so happy.”
Melinda reports similar experiences. “I woke up smiling once, and although I didn’t recall what exactly the dream was about, I knew it was about them because I woke up and I was just happy. My husband said I was laughing a lot.”
Guilt in the Wake of Tragedy
When Benny and Rosa passed within eight days of each other, Melinda and Melissa’s worlds were rocked.
While they had expected their mother’s passing, they were not emotionally prepared for their dad to go first.
“I had a lot of anger when my dad passed,” states Melinda. “But my mom, I was ready for her to go. She had been suffering from cirrhosis for thirteen years. It took a lot from her. I didn’t want her in pain, and I didn’t want my mom to be without my dad. I wanted them to be together.”
Both women knew they had done everything in their power to prolong their parents’ lives. Still, Melinda experienced guilt on top of her grief.
“I know in my heart that I did a lot for my parents,” she shares. “But there’s always that feeling of I could have done more. I was having a lot of issues internally.”
Although Melissa endured the same loss as her sister, she perceived things differently. “She was being hard on herself,” she says about Melinda. “You’re never fully satisfied with what you could have done. But, you can still do good, now, through your own family.”
The Diamond Journey
Melinda and Melissa knew they wanted to create a memorial diamond from their parents’ ashes after first hearing about cremation jewelry while keeping up with the Kardashians, who in season two discussed their post-mortem plans following Kris Jenner’s hip replacement surgery.
In December 2021, they began their diamond journey with Eterneva. Knowing they each wanted a diamond ring, they chose to create two stunning green diamonds by combining the colors of their parents’ birthstones—topaz (yellow) for Benny and aquamarine (blue) for Rosa.
The inscription “Always with us” is etched on the side of each stone.
“Going through the process, I was still struggling with things,” states Melinda. “But, the day the diamonds came home, I felt that our mom was just so happy that her daughters did this. And I knew our dad was happy that our mom was happy. Everything that I had been struggling with…I didn’t struggle with anymore from that day forward.”
And because life is oftentimes serendipitous, on a flight to Las Vegas shortly after their parents’ passing, Melinda was seated next to Eterneva co-founder Garrett Ozar. She confided in him about her challenges in managing her grief, and several months later, Garrett hand-delivered their parents’ diamonds to them.
Love to Last a Lifetime
Benny and Rosa’s love for each other and their family was truly remarkable. It’s something that Melinda and Melissa will always carry with them. Whenever they look at their Eterneva diamonds, they will be reminded of their parents’ love and the gifts they gave them.
“I’m so grateful for EVERYTHING they taught us,” says Melissa. “Especially the value of unity. We’re always together, whether it’s enjoying a Sunday barbecue, celebrating at a wedding, or just hanging out.”
Eterneva is an ashes to diamonds company that celebrates remarkable lives—and loves—like Benny and Rosa. While both Melinda and Melissa experienced the same loss, they grieved differently. By creating a memorial diamond from their parents’ ashes, they were each able to move forward and change the narrative of their grief.
If you think you may be ready to begin your own diamond journey, let’s connect! Our Eterneva Care Team would be happy to walk you through this uplifting and grief-changing experience.