Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Beauty in Grief

As I look back at my last few blog posts, they're pretty f&*cking depressing. It's understandable given all that's been happening in my life, but it makes me realize that I haven't be honest with myself about the gratitude this anguish creates. That sounds like a weird sentence; stick with me.

I don't think any of us are as grateful as we should be. We get frustrated by the small things in life (things like being on hold with my son's pediatrician every time for 15+ minutes) instead of maintaining perspective. It's easy to get impatient with my giant dog for nearly stepping on the baby instead of being grateful that he loves my son so much. It's easy to let the death of my father define my life in a negative way instead of it resulting in an inventory of the myriad blessings my father gave me for which I am thankful.

When someone close to you dies it is a rare opportunity to appreciate how good and thoughtful people really are. My dad's funeral was in my hometown (Hundred, West Virginia), about an hour from where my parents have lived the last decade. I saw friends I haven't seen in twenty years. I saw family I haven't seen in years. I spent time with my favorite teachers. My high school FFA advisor described me as a "powerhouse" to my husband. I will never let my husband forget it. My incredible best friend flew in from Austin, TX to be there for me, and I'm reminded again how lucky I am to have her.  The time of abject grief was also weirdly wonderful. So many people love my dad. So many people love his wife and the children he and my mom so lovingly and painstakingly raised. My being called a powerhouse (best compliment ever!) is a testament to the hard work of my parents. I got to spend a lot of quality time with my mom, my siblings, their spouses and my niece and nephew. Knowing that Dad would've loved us all being together made my broken heart happy.

Ironic how the worst days can still be the most beautiful.
The love/prayers/well wishes from so many people were overwhelming. As we walked around the funeral home looking at the flowers, I marveled at the number of our Michigan friends and colleagues who navigated the complicated process of ordering flowers in tiny Hundred, WV to let us know they were thinking of us. I received a huge stack of cards from the most unexpected senders. My husband's office left us a beautiful mum on our front porch with a note welcoming us home. My first day back at work earlier this week resulted in huge, genuine hugs from my awesome colleagues. I'm so grateful that my husband and I both work in such supportive environments where we never have to worry about being with family instead of in the office when it matters most. 

Hanging out with my siblings and remembering our super active dad.
I've found peace in running. I've discovered a new appreciation for this hobby. I appreciate the time to clear my head and the simple fact that I'm physically able to run. This context is motivational.  

In a time of grief I've discovered there is also grace. In a time of sadness there is also joy. My dad has been gone for two weeks, and I'm still remarkably sad. I don't know when/if that sadness goes away. But I'm also grateful for the love I've felt these last few weeks. I'm happy for the extra time I got with my dad before his surgery. I'm thankful for my mother's strength and stoicism during this time. Life is beautiful. Even death, in a completely screwed up way, is beautiful.

A few years ago a friend got me a little box I keep on a shelf in my bathroom. It has a quote from Robert Brault on it: "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."  I have a really healthy perspective right now that is helping me focus on priorities and what's really important in life. I am concentrating every day on those little things and on gratitude. Thank you, Dad, for this focus. I know you enjoyed those every day little things. As usual I'm following your lead. 


  1. This is absolutely beautiful Samantha.. Inspiring.

  2. My favorite scripture is Romans 5:3-4 - We must rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that our sufferings creates perseverance, character and hope.

    In other words...sufferings create opportunities for one to grow and become a powerhouses. My thoughts and prayer will continue for you and your family Samantha. Great message here...thank you for sharing it.

    1. I love that Brian. Thank you so much!

  3. Grief, A subject that hijacked my writing for a year. The only way to get through it as a blogger is with honesty and transparency. You never know who needs your heart and words. I am so sorry for your loss. I haven't been reading as much and feel terrible I missed that post.
    Grief comes in waves. Sometimes you feel like you are on them and sometimes you feel like they are drowning you. Just feel it. Do what you do, run, write, pray and hold your family tight.

    1. Anita I know you've run through so much grief. Your positive attitude in the face of it is inspiring!