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A Death, a Wedding & a Funeral

As you may or may not know, my dad died early in the morning of July 23rd. My heart was, and still is, broken. I felt lost. I still do. Three days later dear hubby and I loaded up the car and headed to Texas for son #one’s wedding. About a week later, we drove back home to Wisconsin. The very next day we drove to Minnesota to attend my dad’s memorial service and to bury his ashes next to my mother’s. 

Needless to say, I’ve been an emotional mess for the past few weeks. Days have been a mix of sadness and joy. That worn out cliche about that proverbial emotional roller coaster, is worn out yes, but it’s also been quite fitting for my feelings of late.

Such is life, right? 

I was worried about spoiling my son’s wedding with tears of sadness. This worry, of course, made no sense because my dad was on all of our minds. We were all family. We were all grieving. We were all celebrating. Tears of any sort were okay that day and any other day, for that matter. And like I keep saying over and over, emotions are complex, and we humans often feel many different emotions all at the same time. We are entitled to feel any or all of them, one at a time, or jumbled together all at once.

We should never feel badly about experiencing joy mixed with sadness or sadness mixed with joy.

So why is it so hard to follow my own advice?

As things turned out, it was a lovely wedding indeed. I am so happy for son #one and my new daughter-in-law. I had a really good time. I smiled. I laughed. I celebrated.

I also cried more than a few tears.

As my very dear and very wise friend Nicki Boscia Durlester (thank you, Nicki) said to me before I left:

This is the juxtaposition of grieving and celebrating. As heavy as your heart is now, it will be filled with happiness this weekend. Your dad would want you to be in the moment and embrace the joy at your son’s wedding. You know he will be with you in spirit. His essence lives on.

That’s exactly what I did. I embraced the moment. I embraced the joy. But I also embraced the sorrow.

I don’t think my friend has any idea how much her words meant to me and how they helped carry me through.

They continue to help carry me through now.

I will continue to embrace my grief.

I will allow myself to feel it without also feeling pangs of guilt.

But I will also allow myself to embrace joy at every possible moment.

Because yes, this is exactly what my dad would want for me, to experience the joys of living.

Life carries on.

I will too.

And my dad will always be with me in spirit.

Because his essence lives on in my heart forever indeed.

Have you ever experienced a similar juxtaposition of celebrating and grieving?

Have you ever felt badly about your feelings of sadness when you were expected to be feeling joyful, or vice versa?

Do you have trouble following your own advice?


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A wedding
There we are…


the newlyweds
Finally, after all the waiting….it’s official!


This is joy
One of my favorite pics of the newlyweds because for me, their smiles say it all – love and joy.


Erwin Schulheisz
My dad, the smartest, kindest and most patient man I’ve ever known. Miss you. Love you forever. RIP. Click image to read his obit.



28 thoughts to “A Death, a Wedding & a Funeral”

  1. Nancy,
    I know exactly how you feel. Welcome to the world of orphaned adults. I’ve been one for 13 years now. While I will say that it isn’t always easy, I am grateful for many things. One being that I actually got to spend the night with my father the night before he passed away. I have a picture of me sitting on the bed next to him. A treasure like no other. I have more than I can count with my mother of course, but I got to say goodbye to her, I think maybe that was my blessing in all of that. We grieved together. Just know you aren’t alone dear lady and if you ever need to chat, cry or vent I’m not far. Hugs and loves


    1. Helen, Oh my…13 years. I love how you spent that last night with your father and that you have that special photo. I was with my dad on his last evening, too, but he died after I left. I’ll be writing about that at some point I suppose. I have a few special photos. I’m so glad we took some even while he was in hospice. Didn’t do that with my mom. Thank you very much for your kind words. I will keep that offer in mind. Hugs and love back to you. xx

      1. I think they choose when to let go, my mother waited for me and my aunt Meg to leave before passing. It’s like they just know.

        1. Helen, You might be right…Sometimes I think my dad decided to die before my son’s wedding, so I wouldn’t worry constantly about him while traveling to and from. He told me he’d be okay and maybe that’s what he meant. It was time…Not sure if that makes sense. xx

  2. Oh boy do I ever have trouble following my own advice. My son leaves for college this Friday and I’m finding it so hard to take my own advice about letting go, the advice I give all my friends. I’m so very sorry for your loss, Nancy. And so happy for your joy in your son’s marriage. Hugs xo

    1. Claudia, Glad I’m not the only who has trouble. And gosh, that’s a major milestone for you and your son both. Letting go is tough, but it’s what we raise them to do, to be able to go out on their own. I’m sure it’ll be an emotional day for you both. I’ll be thinking about you. And thank you very much for your kind words about my dad and also about my son’s wedding. Thank you for sharing. xo

  3. My heart goes out to you concerning your Dad. I’m so sorry for your loss. Congratulations on your son’s wedding! I think it’s hard to experience joy with great sadness — sounds like you managed it well. And I totally have trouble following my own advice. All. The. Time.

  4. I can imagine how you must have felt, Nancy. My father’s death was quite sudden with no warning whatsoever. He died of a massive heart attack right there off the kitchen. The paramedics got his heart started, but couldn’t restore his breathing, so I consider that he died right there in front of me.
    My mother, on the other hand, lasted six years after a really bad stroke, which led to Parkinson’s and then dementia. That is not pretty at the last. (One reason I do not find dementia jokes remotely funny.) We took care of her at home and she died in her bed while I was standing there.
    Odd experience – being right there when both parents died.

    1. Katy, Oh gosh, that must have been so traumatic for you to witness your dad’s heart attack right there in the kitchen. I’m sorry. And your poor mother…again, I’m sorry. Odd experiences yes, but also profound things to witness – being part of their death experiences. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Nancy, congratulations to your son on his wedding. The bride looks beautiful.

    I’ve been thinking of you. I know how much love can hurt. Everything you are feeling is a reflection of the love you feel for your dad and the bond you both had. I see it in every word you write about him.

    It is very understandable that you will have a mix of different emotions. I can relate. When my grandma was ill it was during Christmas. She passed on Jan. 2. I clearly remember all the Christmas trees, including the one at my uncle’s house. It was hard for all of us to keep the spirit but we allowed ourselves to just be. I still find it hard trying to celebrate Christmas. The memory of my grandma is vivid. But I wouldn’t give up the bond we had.

    Sending you love and hugs. xoxo

    1. Rebecca, Thank you for thinking of me. I know you understand loss far too well. It makes me sad that you still find it hard to celebrate Christmas, but on the other hand, it makes me happy you had such an incredibly deep bond with your grandmother. Thank you for sharing about her; I love it whenever you do. Thank you for your kind words. Love and hugs back. xo

  6. What a bittersweet time. I’m happy for you that you had the kind of love with both of your parents that would make your heart break at their loss. I’m happy you got to expand your family at this time and celebrate your son’s wedding. Love and hugs to you, Nancy.

  7. Hi Nancy, oh the jumble of emotions! I’m very sorry about your dad’s passing. I’m so glad you and your family were able to find joy at the wedding and joy in life in general. The pictures are wonderful. You are so right that this is life; joy mixed with grief and sadness. What Nicki said was so true and profound. Thank you for this beautiful and insightful post and for sharing this part of your life with your readers.

    1. Beth, Yes, the jumble indeed. I tried (and am still trying) to follow my own advice by letting myself feel however I happen to be feeling. The complexity of emotions is part of what makes us human and of course, with great love, also comes great loss. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the kind words about this post.

  8. I guess I have not often thought about the juxtaposition of grief and joy as much but reading this reminded me of just that very thing. Thirty years ago I was married and on that day my beloved grandmother passed (my Mom’s mom). She had not been ill and in fact the previous day was at the hairdresser getting ready for my wedding. She lived in a small town outside of ours about 2 hours away. She had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital a very short time. My sister went up to see her the day it happened and my mother went up the morning of the wedding. Here is the serendipitous part though my sister who was the first grandchild and who was very close to my grandmother having lived with her for a time was there to see her. Had I not been getting married my sister may have never been able to see her before she passed away because she lived several hours away at that time. My Mom goes to visit her mother and while she is there she passes away. My husband and I had made plans already to delay our honeymoon so as to visit her the next day. My mother comes to the wedding a little flustered and feeling a little late but she never reveals what has happened to my grandmother. She did not want anything to change the joy of our wedding day and told my sister and I after the reception. What a difficult day that must have been for her! The honeymoon was delayed as we did not want to miss her funeral. I have never forgotten what strength that she must have summoned on a day that was for her one of the happiest and one of the saddest. My grandmother would not have wanted it any other way and I will never ever forget that day.

    1. Sandy, Oh my, that is an incredible story, it makes me tear up reading it. Thank you so much for sharing. That juxtaposition of grief and joy is something that happens quite often because this is the way life, and death, is. Thank you again.

  9. Nancy, those are such intense emotions mixed together. Be kind to yourself and let yourself experience what you need to. I am late to reading this because of my own current grieving experience, we lost both of our dogs last year to old age and I did not take care of myself and it has now come back to bite me. I’ve been going through a very rough time the last few weeks around the anniversary of losing Iris. We are in the process of preparing for new puppies this winter, but I am still feeling the loss. I am now having to take the time out for myself, to process things that I did not because I threw myself into my work and didn’t give myself the care I need.

    It’s always the lessons we teach others that are the ones we need to learn ourselves. Now I see that I was coping with the deaths of my girls like a nurse, instead of like a mom. Nursing is a two edged sword in that way.

    You are in my thoughts and I wish your son and his wife much joy in their lives together.

    1. Alene, Your comment is so kind. Thank you. I am so sorry about the loss of your sweet dogs. I understand that heartbreaking loss because as you might remember, our golden died last August. It doesn’t surprise me that you are struggling with grief around the anniversary date of Iris’ death. I’ve been thinking a lot about our Elsie too. I hope you do take some time to practice some self care. Sometimes throwing ourselves back into work or trying to stay busy helps and sometimes, in the long run, it doesn’t. I am finding that keeping busy after my dad’s health does seem helpful, but I also let myself grieve whenever grief sneaks up on me, which it still does very, very often. I guess in some ways I have been coping with my dad’s illness and death as a caregiver and not enough as a daughter and I need to do that. And then the wedding and that juxtaposition…Life and emotions do get complicated. Many thanks for your kind words and for the good wishes for the newlyweds too.

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