Good Grief


It shows up in the oddest moments, lighting the darkest corners.

A few days ago I sat in a funeral home with two of my sisters, listening to the endless litany of explanations regarding cremation. The writer in me perched on the edge of the couch in unfettered curiosity while the sister in me kept a careful eye and hand on my younger sibling as she nodded through each statement. At forty-seven, she is not quite two years younger than me. Sitting next to me, here in the funeral home, she is the indomitable woman, checking boxes to order the cremation her firstborn.

My niece, a vibrant, beautiful girl of unimaginable potential, overflowing with love, filled with laughter and blessed with a flair for the dramatic. She was a popular performer on the local stages, known for her wit, her compassion, her tiny five foot frame and that Ethel Merman voice.

Her mother scribbles her initials on the contract, the room solemnly silent, so unlike her daughter’s life. She hands the clipboard back to the funeral director who nervously clears his throat and moves to the next paragraph.

“This paragraph states that you understand that the cremation is irreversible.” He clears his throat again, handing over the pen and paper.

I glance at my youngest sister, sitting across from us, a quiver tickles at the corner of her mouth as she meets my eye. I swallow the giggle that threatens to erupt as I picture my niece’s reaction to that particular gem in her funeral planning.

The surprised flip of her fiery red hair, the quirk of her eyebrow and miffed moue of her lips. “Irreversible you say? This is just coming up now?”

Her infectious laughter at the absolute absurdity, echoes in my mind. A little sparkle of the good grief, the moments that make you smile through your tears. It happened again when her mother reluctantly declined to attend the cremation and take the opportunity to push the button.

Noting her hesitation, I whispered, “Are you sure you don’t want to?”

She scribbled her initials, “Nah, I’d like to, but she’d think it was gross. I’ve already taken a lock of her hair, she’d be like, MOM! That’s weird AND gross! Do NOT come push the button you sicko! ” It was a pitch perfect rendition of her daughter’s voice.

Youngest sister and I are caught picturing it and forced to look away from each other before the giggles escape. Another glimmer of good grief, like a rhinestone flashing in the spotlight. It reminded me of the lyric, there’s no people like show people, they smile when they are low.

The radiant memory of this beautiful girl will forever catch me unaware, reminding me to smile, laugh, and go, on with the show.








0 thoughts on “Good Grief”

  1. Wow! What a performance. Just threw herself totally into it!
    I remember being at the funeral home with my sister arranging my mum’s funeral. My mum was very musical, and we kept breaking into song while talking to the funeral director! You kind of have to go with the flow and let their personality come into the room, I think.
    Sending you strength.

  2. Don’t they have a reversible cremation available for a slight up charge?
    Sending you many hugs. No one should have ot bear this.

  3. Is it wrong to admit that I giggled with the tears? She obviously did a lot of living in a short span of time.

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I would be a basket case if something happened to Spawn. Hugs.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. Words are never enough so sending hugs and warm thoughts your way.

    I couldn’t help but laugh as I read through this at the same time wiping away tears (yes big strong show emotion). The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” holds true even in the most somber of times. During my Mom’s visitation there was a healthy amount of laughter recounting just how she would have reacted to something going on…or…recounting how she handled a situation in the past. Yes we were sad, and still are 14 years later, but knew Mom would have wanted us to laugh as well.

    It appears your niece would have wanted to exact same thing. To lighten the moment with a little levity.

    1. How right you are. I thought of you this week as I took a little time to do some people watching in airports๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve decided it’s more fun listening to you talk about it.

  5. Carly, this is just so sad ๐Ÿ˜ขI watched the video and it feels impossible to believe such a vibrant soul has departed far too early. She was amazing!๐Ÿ’– I think she would have enjoyed the glimpses of humor too in what you and your sister were going through ๐Ÿ˜˜

  6. It is just wrong to lose a child. She was dynamic though and this post suggests she had a fabulous sense of humour! I think she would have enjoyed the fight against the giggles you were having. My prayers are with you and your sister. All the best!

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