Grief, Joy, and All the Rest

Well, that was a difficult week.

We buried my Grandpa on Thursday morning. The day was hot, but there was a strong sweet breeze and the cemetery was grassy and dotted with bright flowers. My Grandpa built and played the mountain dulcimer and we were lucky that a group of Appalachian musicians who knew Grandpa came to play at the visitation and the funeral. I’ll never get the beautiful and bittersweet sound of “Amazing Grace” on the dulcimer out of my head. It is comforting and heart-bruising all at the same time.

Grief is such a strange bird. I’m sad my Grandpa is gone, but glad he is no longer suffering. I enjoyed time with my family, but hated that we were together under sad circumstances.

We all had what my Grandmama called, “crying diarrhea.” Crying diarrhea is when tears slam you all of the sudden; you don’t know where it came from, but you have to cry right then. Oh, and it spreads quickly. At one point we were all in the den laughing about how much my Grandpa liked candy. He always had some Mentos in his pocket and he ate candy corn year round. After a few minutes of talking about Mentos everyone in the room was laughing, then weeping. I think I could brace myself for the big, obvious sad things: walking into the room where he died, planning the funeral details, writing an obituary, finding musicians, ordering flowers. It was the tiny things that sucker punched me: the smell of his closet, his slippers at the bottom of the stairs, the sound of my Great Uncle Bobby’s voice that sounds similar to Grandpa’s voice, but isn’t quite the same.

My grief was compounded by two things: watching my mom grieve and watching Hope grieve. My mom seemed so tiny and broken. I felt like I was hovering from wanting to hug her all the time. For Hope this is not only the death of a loved relative who was a part of her life, but it is also her first experience with death. Hope curled up in my lap and wept, but then asked to spend most of her time with her Papa (my dad).

There were other difficult things that happened this week. They pale in comparison to the death of a loved one, but there was very much a “seriously? now?” type of questioning going on each time a snafu hit. A $300 car repair, a traffic ticket, losing my work keys (that could get me in HUGE trouble), feeling behind on work, another poetry rejection.

And yet… and yet…. and yet….

…there was so much joy this week. Hugs and great conversations with family members, spending time with my immediate family, music, food, a date with Sam, and sweet funny antics from my kids. Each time something tender, kind, funny, or comforting came along I felt this great underscoring of this is life, this is precious, this is goodness. As the great Albus Dumbledore once said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

(Me with my sister and brother / Atticus drew me a hot potato to cheer me / Hugs after the funeral with my sweet girl)



  1. Amanda, I’m new to reading your blog, and wanted to offer my sympathy in the loss of your grandfather. My granddad died back in 1974, but I still miss his quiet strength, his gentleness, and never ending patience. My mom inherited many of those qualities, and when she died three months ago, I was plunged into the deepest sorrow I’ve ever known. So I find myself drawn to others who are grieving these days. Your words are lovely and soothing, and mirror so many of my own feelings. It helps to have a hand to hold across the web of cyberspace.
    Blessings to you and your family in this sad time.

  2. I am glad you were able to find some happy moments among the bad! My grandfathers have both passed away at this point and I definitely know how hard it can be.

  3. You were a light during that time sweetie; a ready hug and a word of encouragement. I love you. (your favorite aunt)

  4. I am so glad you were able to find the good with the bad this past week.I like to think that is exactly how our loved ones would want things to be.

  5. We never expect those little things that cause the sucker punches. Sorry for your loss, but so glad to hear that you are finding joy in the midst of your grief and enjoying the time with family. Praying you will continue to find light in the dark places.

  6. I’m late, but I understand so well, dear. My grandpa died in 2007, a few days before my birthday (in fact, his wake was on my birthday), and it was much of the same things you say. *hugs*

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