What Grieving Feels Like: Remembering a Grandfather

Unlike other emotions, grieving feels like a force that comes from the outside world and settles suddenly in my body like the flu or a storm. It arrives suddenly and slows the pace of my steps. Grief seems to make gravity stronger and everyday objects are heavier to pick up. It is exhausting.

When we are not grieving, we forget that is so tangible — like someone strapped weights to your legs while you were sleeping. And you forget that it feels entirely different from regular sadness — like it has a different source. It reminds me of the first truly cold winter day each winter when you remember that wind can actually hurt. Or a mouthful of seawater after years away from the ocean when it is saltier than you expected.

This week I am remembering my grandfather who would have been one hundred years old on Monday and lived 4 months past his 99th birthday. He was a huge part of my life and a role model for a life truly well lived and how to have a happy marriage (his advice for the latter was “overlook, overlook and overlook”). From his first job as a child in New York City, guarding bolts of wool on a horse drawn delivery wagon through his career as an attorney and judge — he loved the huge adventure of life and the Brooklyn landscape where he lived most of his.

I think part of his secret to longevity was holding on to his childlike curiosity and his sense of life as an adventure to enjoy. He loved to figure out how things work, make repairs and study machinery. And on his 99th birthday, he was blown away by his first experience speaking on Skype. Even in his final days he read the New York Times, worried about the Tsunami hitting Japan and made sure to remove his hearing aid batteries so they would not waste their charge.

There is so much more to say about him than I can write now, especially when exhausted by grief. But if he is watching me now, he is probably wondering exactly what this blogging business is all about, he would want to know how the dashboard and widgets work and would probably be considering starting his own too. I wish I could read it.


  1. It is so good to remember!

  2. Great story about your grandfather. I get a good picture of him. And would like to hear more. How ’bout a part 2?

    Sorry that he didnt make it to 100 and to read your blog. Good for you for remembering him to us.

    • Thanks Abi. yes, there is so much more to say but I am glad I was able to start here. I think a part 2 (and more) is a good idea. Yes, we thought we would celebrate 100 with him but at his 99th birthday he pointed out he had made it to his 100th year which is true.

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