Can there be joy in mourning the loss of a loved one?
By Yvonne Perry
I know for certain that joy and laughter play a huge role in coping with any hardship.
I remember when my grandfather passed away in 1988. I was the first one to enter the house he and my grandmother had shared for 30 years. I had lived next door to them for five years. Daily, my children made several trips back and forth across the garden lot that separated our houses to visit Nanny and Pap. Naturally, my kids were close to their great-grandparents.
My grandmother and my mother had stayed all day and all night with Pap in the hospital for most of the prior week because we knew he was about to succumb to his 20-year battle with emphysema.
When I received the news that he had died in the hospital it was 5:30 a.m. I made a trip to the local donut shop and bought a couple dozen goodies for the family who would be arriving once the coroner had taken Pap’s body. I put on a pot of coffee and awaited that cold February sunrise.
Nanny has always been a go-getter who loves to travel. At ninety years old today, she still leads an active life. However, for several years prior to Pap’s passing she had not been able to go on a vacation with our family for fear that he might die while she was playing skee-ball in the arcades or walking the beach in Florida!
When our family arrived that grim morning, no one really knew what to say to one another. Our grief was mingled with relief. Our relief was tainted with guilt. We were sad, but we also felt a huge burden had been lifted now that the struggle we had all been facing was over and the inevitable had finally occurred.
My kindergarten-aged daughter broke the tension for all of us. She skipped in happily that morning and stopped short when she sensed the heavy atmosphere. Looking at each one of us sitting in our silent stew pot of remorse, she quipped, “Why is everyone so sad? Nanny can go to the beach with us now that Pap is gone!”
We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Her innocent five-year-old comment shocked us so much we didn’t realize the humor until Nanny burst into laughter. That gave us all permission to let out our own roar. Whether that roar was laughter or sorrow, doesn’t matter. The fact is whatever emotion we were repressing internally had to come out. And, the sooner, the better. Tears flowed and hugged followed the roll of toilet paper that was being passed around.
From there, each of us started sharing funny stories we remembered about Pap. The entire mood in the room and in our hearts changed. Soon it was just like our familiar Sunday dinners; women were stirring about in the kitchen and the men were watching TV while the kids traipsed back and forth across the garden in one house and out the other. Barbie dolls and footballs scattered between the mental anguish of our grief and the reality of the love we share as a family.
Linda Della Donna is a special member of this co-op who blogs about grief at http://www.griefcase.blogspot.com/. Each day she posts something humorous to assist women who have lost their husbands. Linda is a widow and she understands grief from all sides.
If you are grieving, do yourself a favor and pick up some mourning joy for your grief case.