Grief is like living at sea

Robert Willey the best Grandpop ever

I remember getting the phone call on my way to work and being shocked to my core. There are times in life when things won’t make sense. No matter how hard you pray, no matter how ugly you cry or how deep you breathe – the world stops spinning for a second and when it starts back up again everything is different. And you know in that moment, your life has changed and it is not ever meant to be the same. On October 23, 2019, the world lost an Earth angel. It was time for him to put on his wings and fly home. And while his wings were ready, my heart was not.

My grandpop was the kind of man you read about in storybooks or saw in old movies with Cary Grant or Frank Sinatra. He was charming and handsome, witty and intelligent, quietly brave and incredibly funny. He was an amazing grandfather and great grandfather and my family will forever be blessed for having shared in his life. He lived 91 years, was married for 68 years and the last year had been painful.

The feeling of grief after losing my Grandpa has been sort of an enigma. It is a complex emotion that can be difficult to navigate.

Maybe that is how grief works though.

My cousin Roo (left), Grandpop Willey, Me (right)

At first, it is an every moment of everyday critical pain, and then it becomes a dull ache. A feeling that is there with you, and it hurts, but you can keep moving forward. But there are still times when it’s unbearable. Times like today are hard, this would have been his 95th birthday, and I am sure he is celebrating in heaven with Twizzlers and Butter Pecan ice cream, maybe some peanut brittle.

When we are in deep grief, we grasp for comfort, for stability, for something to make sense. Like someone lost at sea reaching for a life preserver.  But just as the ocean is constantly changing, so too is our grief. The waves may never stop coming, but we can learn to swim.

I suppose that loving someone who has left the Earth can almost be like living at sea. Sometimes the ocean sparkles, and the memories are crystal clear, sometimes you see the sunrise along the horizon, and it’s warm against your cheeks. Other times, the waves crash, the sky is dark, the thunder rumbles, and you know it’s going to be a rough one; a stormy day at sea.

And just as we can learn to navigate the ocean, we can learn to navigate our grief. We can find ways to honor our emotions and find moments of peace amidst the waves.

Today, on your birthday the sun was shining. And I know that is you. You are the sun rising above the sea, over the horizon, warming my cheeks.

I love you, Grandpop Willey, every day!

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