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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.



Alene Nitzky

Monday 22nd of August 2016

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.


Tuesday 23rd of August 2016

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.


Saturday 20th of August 2016

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.


Sunday 21st of August 2016

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.

Beth L. Gainer

Wednesday 17th of August 2016

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.


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

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.


Sunday 14th of August 2016

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.


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

Eileen, I am happy it hurts so much too, if that makes sense. Thank you for your kind words. Love and hugs back.


Sunday 14th of August 2016

Sending you love and strength... hang in there!


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

Salome, Thank you.

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