Growing with grief

Published 4:22 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By RACHEL RAIFORD | Staff Writer

It’s 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning. I wake to the sound of my phone ringing, which it had twice already that morning. While I didn’t answer the phone before my voicemail box, I did start my usual morning routine of trudging through the halls of my apartment to make my morning coffee.

I didn’t make it all the way down the steps before my phone rang once again. It was my father.

My father usually calls around that time, so I didn’t think much of it. I was preparing for a morning chat about the birds that sat outside or something my mother had said that morning.

I answered the phone with my usually cheery hello, but instead of returning a hello back, my father said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m just making my coffee before I get ready for work,” I said.

“I need you to sit down,” he said.

A pit had begun to form deep in my stomach. It was one of those conversations that after the first few words are said the person’s voice fades and all you can hear is your own heartbeat.

He tells me that my grandfather had passed earlier that morning. My grandfather, the man that was larger than life itself was gone.

That’s when the never-ending cycle of grief began.

It sits inside of me like a scream that no one else can hear. It’s heavy and it comes in waves.

Grief knows no boundaries. It can attack you at work, sitting in the Starbucks drive thru or in the midst of a huge milestone.

I sit on my front porch in the mornings and evenings now, like I did with him as a child. I look for cardinals and white butterflies early in the morning and lightning bugs on a warm summer evening. That’s when I can see him.

I smile when I see him, knowing he’s there watching. Maybe he saw me graduate college in May. Maybe he will be there to see my sister play in her first college softball game.

While he isn’t here physically, I can feel him all around. Some days are more difficult than others, but healing happens every day. While grief never dwindles, you learn to get on with it. Moving forward rather than moving on.

Last weekend marked one year without him. I went to stay with my mom, I knew it would be a hard day for her. We laughed as we sat in the pool and cried when we heard an old country song he used to sing. It was a beautiful day, full of emotions.

I’ve learned that expressing my grief is important. Whether it’s through a chat with a friend or a quick cry when I see a lightning bug. Expression makes it easier, I think. Easier to get on with it.

I love telling people about my grandfather, even though it makes me sad. He gave the world’s biggest, best bear hugs and his laugh lit up a room. He loved his children, all nine of his grandchildren, their spouses and his two great-grandchildren whole heartedly.

I wanted to share this with all of you because even in the overwhelming moments of sadness, love is persevering. Intense loss means that there was great love.