He was in his armchair, watching a John Wayne movie. It could have been so much worse. May 31, 2009 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Another "Best of Metafilter" request. So, my grandfather died today (as I anticipated a few months ago), and one of my first reactions is to look to Metafilter for comfort and guidance. I've found a few relevant threads on my own (just taking a cursory glance at ColdChef's posting history helps put death in perspective), but I'd appreciate other mefites' help: what are the most helpful, or comforting, or grounding threads you've read on the site that have to do with death and grieving?

I don't really know what to feel about all this, but I feel pretty strongly that Metafilter can help.
posted by ocherdraco to MetaFilter-Related at 9:02 PM (28 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

When the Bali bombing happened in 2002, I basically found out in realtime that my one my oldest and best friends had been caught up in it, and when he died about ten days later, this thread was of great comfort to me.

When I have one of those low ebbs that we all have once in a while and I find myself getting annoyed by Metafilter, I remember that experience -- the first time I really understood how important online community had become to me -- and realize that I'll probably keep coming here until I die, too.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:29 PM on May 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

So sorry for your loss. I don't have any relevant MeFi threads to link to, but I do want to say that this poem is one I think of in times of grief.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss. My grandfather loved John Wayne movies. This thread came to mind.
posted by Majorita at 1:25 AM on June 1, 2009

Here's a thread that might be helpful.
posted by orange swan at 3:40 AM on June 1, 2009

This is exactly what I needed. My father passed away on Friday, and I was also thinking that there had to be some way Metafilter could help. I'm glad you asked this, ocherdraco, and thanks to everyone who is posting these links.
posted by thejanna at 4:27 AM on June 1, 2009

I always liked this thread about dirty jokes for grandma for its life affirming hilarity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:00 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

ocherdraco and thejanna,

I'm so sorry for your loss. While I can't think of any threads that haven't been already linked, please accept my condolences. My thoughts are with you both.
posted by dejah420 at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2009

These are all very helpful, each in their own way. Thank you. Please keep adding to the list if there are more useful threads you're aware of.

My hometown newspaper has put up a lovely article about my grandfather, but unfortunately it's behind a paywall. Here's a bit of it:
J. Gilmer Blackburn knew his town was standing at a crossroads when he became mayor in 1962.

Decatur could choose to enter the New South and be a modern city or stay on the path of the Old South and cling to a belief that it was meant to be only a small town with small ideas.

Mr. Blackburn, who died Sunday in his native Auburn at the age of 81, led Decatur into the New South, literally riding a wave.

It was Mr. Blackburn who conceived the idea of Decatur becoming home to America’s first wave pool — something he’d seen while traveling in Europe — and he worked diligently for five years to bring that project to fruition in Point Mallard Park.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:52 AM on June 1, 2009

ocherdraco, I want you to know that as a kid, I had many, many happy hours in the wave pool in Point Mallard. Trips to Point Mallard were a regular part of my summers. The first time I ever jumped off a diving platform was at the Olympic-sized pool at Point Mallard. One of the first kisses of my life was huddled in a church bus beneath a beach towel with a girl with wet hair who smelled of chlorine and orange soda, on the way home from Point Mallard.

It never occurred to me, as a kid, that someone in Decatur must have decided to build a wave pool -- I just knew that they had one and we didn't so let's pack a cooler full of sandwiches and throw on our bathing suits and go to Decatur.

I'm sorry for your loss. Your grandfather made the city of Decatur proud and lots of Alabama kids very happy.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:15 AM on June 1, 2009 [12 favorites]

I don't have a thread to recommend, but I want to say how sorry I am for your loss.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2009

My younger brother died at Christmas. In the months since, I think this comment is one that has had a lot of resonance for me.
posted by milkrate at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2009

I don't have any threads to point you towards, but I can relate somewhat to your loss.

My grandfather, probably the most important man in my life, passed away earlier this year. The shock of him not being there anymore was pretty brutal, but at the funeral, as I stood there in the middle of Arlington National, surrounded by my family and his friends, I realized that as sad as I was, it wasn't like he was completely absent from the scene; I could see his influence in the people all around me; the humor, the intelligence, the loyalty... we were all better for having grown up with him.

As moments go, it was a bit overly sentimental and felt like it belonged in a Hallmark movie, but it was also undeniably true.

I'm very sorry for your loss, but think of it this way; you are who you are because of knowing him. Celebrate his life and all that.

I hope you find comfort.
posted by quin at 11:59 AM on June 1, 2009

My own grandmother died early this morning after unexpectedly becoming very ill late last week. I don't have a lot to offer you in terms of comfort, other than to thank you for starting this thread and send whatever good vibes I have left in your direction.

Armchair + John Wayne = a good way to go.
posted by olinerd at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2009

This thread has a lot of good stuff about dealing with the "this person is now missing" aspect of death.

I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm glad your grandfather at least passed while enjoying something.
posted by ignignokt at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2009

i, too, am sorry to read of your losses, ocherdraco, thejanna, and olinerd. i hope that you all find comfort and offer my condolences.
posted by the aloha at 3:15 PM on June 1, 2009

No words or links to particular threads will help you - although there are a lot of good ones there. I'm mourning the loss of my mum just over a month ago, and I did find some comfort in some of the discussions here (sadly, no MeFi was around for my grandparents - ah well).

No one will tell you the truth though - that the loss you experience with the grief of losing someone you love is a kind of hell on earth, and feels like your heart is being ripped out. But know that each day gets a little easier, and that each day - and life itself - goes on, and on.
posted by rmm at 3:37 PM on June 1, 2009

I am so very sorry for your loss, I feel for you and for the other people in this thread who have recently lost someone.

A lot of the links given above will be helpful to you. I just want to add that everyone deals with grief in their own way. Please do not be influenced by how other people grieved, or any notion of what is deemed "normal". Do not in any way feel after a while "I should be over this by now!"
The same thing applies if you are concerned that you have moved on sooner than "what is expected" of you.

Grieving sucks. It sucks less after a while.
My thoughts are with you.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:30 PM on June 1, 2009

It does hurt less and less each day. I was closer than anything to my maternal grandparents and I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by applemeat at 5:00 PM on June 1, 2009

Since my dad passed away a month ago, I have been tremendously sad some days, my normal self other days, and numb/angry on still other days. Some days I experience all of these emotions one after the other.

What rmm said above is very true. What comforts me is the "naturalness" of this - your parents will die. My grandparents died years ago. This is what happens. It is not a tragedy*, it is simply a very sad part of life.

*in most cases, of course. Sometimes it is.
posted by pinky at 5:58 PM on June 1, 2009

Oh, dear. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Liquorice's comment here made a lot of sense to me:
I'm...yeah. If I said I was pretending to live, would that make any sense?
That sounded familiar to me, because it's how I got through the weeks after my first partner's death, and again years later in the weeks after my father's death. I pretended to live, going through the motions of meals and sleeping and going to classes and going to the laundromat. It kept me reasonably healthy and centered at times when I could have come untethered from my life.

We talk about "going through the motions" as a negative thing, but at the time, it was all I could do to retain any semblance of my normal life. It worked for me.

I'm so sorry, and I hope you find what works for you. Take care.
posted by Elsa at 6:10 PM on June 1, 2009

When I lost my own grandfather, I was living in Pittsburgh at the time.

I had gone to college north of the city, and because my immediate family was out in California, most of my trips to and from college came by way of Cleveland, where the majority of my dad's family - including my grandfather - still lived.

My grandfather had started a small industrial construction park / management company some 50 or 60 years ago, and its where a couple of my father's siblings worked full time, and also where a number of us grandchildren found our summer/Thanksgiving/Easter -break temporary jobs, to line our pockets with some beer money. I remember a number of these breaks I spent working alongside my cousin Jason, his parents forced him to work even though he didn't really need the money, I on the other hand was paying my own way through college.

On Friday afternoons, after a long week of hard work in the frozen tundra of northern Ohio, Jason and I would finish locking up the warehouse and trudge into the office, where we would find my grandfather, sitting behind the secretary's desk in the front of the office, enjoying his 2nd or 3rd glass of boxed wine - which he kept in the office. He'd growl some surly remark at us about how we only loved our grandfather for his money, and take your checks and run along now and spend your money, etc.. We'd laugh and Jason would do hysterically accurate impressions of our jowly grandpa on our way back to Jason's house, with awesome prime-rib hero sandwiches wrapped in foil sitting on the seat next to us.

After college, I moved to Pittsburgh for a job there for a couple of years. A little after a year of living there, I got the call from my dad. He and the family were flying to Cleveland for his father's funeral. I would drive there and meet them for it. Dad has 7 siblings so the family gathering would be big.

It wasn't anything abnormal - just another large, WASPy funeral get-together with a catered lunch at a moderate golf lodge following. Mostly good times. I drove back home the same afternoon in my red Toyota pickup.

As you come south towards Pittsburgh, the road that one takes to where I was living at the time winds through one of the priciest real-estate markets in the entire US - Sewickley Heights. I guess its a bunch of old oil/steel money still hanging around there or something - but the road for a few miles through that particular set of suburban hills takes you past some pretty stunning estates, if you didn't know better you might guess you were in the foothills of the Alps in Switzerland. Anyway, having a particularly well-funded local police department, this neighborhood also enjoys the extreme prejudice with which the speed limit of 25mph is enforced. I had been pulled over on multiple occasions in that particular stretch.

It was a bright fall day, late in the afternoon, I remember it clearly. I had never been one to cry much, being brought up the way I was to "tough things out." But there on that particular stretch of road, driving slowly, everything just kind of came back to me at once, built up upon itself, and hit me like a wave in the ocean surf. I lost it began sobbing uncontrollably.

It was at that exact moment that a police car pulled out of a turn, ahead of me, and came towards me. The officer looked directly at me as he passed, and then swung a u-turn behind me, and pulled me over.

He came up behind my driver's side window, tapped on the glass with the butt end of his flashlight, and I, still sobbing, rolled down the window. He didn't come close enough that we'd have to make eye contact.

"You OK?"

I choked something out about returning from my grandfather's funeral.

"You live in the village?"

Yes, I managed.

"You just take however long you need, I'll wait behind you and follow you down into town when you're ready."

I think somewhere my grandfather was smiling at the way it came to a close for me.


I guess I'd just say I know where you're at, ocherdraco - I'm very sorry for your loss and I'll pray the grieving passes for you in good time. It sucks, so very much. That said, this community was very much here for me, last year, when I lost a friend and fellow mefite. You might find some comfort in the threads I posted on it, here and here - there were some excellent comments / poems / quotes / etc.. I know I certainly was comforted.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:11 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I wrote to Ask MeFi back in October, when my father passed away unexpectedly. His death came as such a shock to me, that it was sort of an instinctual thing to do. I don't have a huge posting history here, but people were so kind and I got such good information about what to do next. Jessamyn wrote to me privately and that was so touching - for someone as busy as she is to reach out when I was just floundering. I never did a follow up post, mostly because I could never think how to sum up the experience, but I wish I had. In a lot of ways there is just a machine that kicks into gear in a situation like this, if you have any family at all. I think part of what made me feel so alone at first is that I am an only child, but it turned out that both sides of my family turned out in force to help and to be with me and my son and husband. I made some new ties and reenforced some old ones and I think that's one of the best things to come out of this situation. My thread is here, if you want to go and read it. I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by jvilter at 4:15 AM on June 2, 2009

aww, ocherdraco, my loving thoughts for you. I'm glad your grandfather was at home, relaxed, watching a movie, probably on TCM, which has been celebrating John Wayne, and had a quiet, composed death. Yes, it could have been so much worse.

Grieving a loss or feelings of abandonment is a process.

rtha's comment in the Talking to the dying thread, includes the link to what I think is a brilliantly uplifting essay on Greta Christina's Blog: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to do With God.

I find chudmonkey's comment in the above us only sky thread wise and true in my own experience of loss.

My cyber companionship and good wishes as you go to the funerals in his and your hometowns.
posted by nickyskye at 4:01 PM on June 2, 2009

Thanks, everyone, for the links, for your stories, and for your condolences. I thought Metafilter could help, and it turns out I was right. (And my condolences to those who've also lost someone recently—I hope my asking this question helped at least a little bit.)

My grandfather was sent off in style yesterday, with a police honor guard at the funeral, and police officers saluting him from every intersection on the way to the cemetery, with bystanders stopping their cars and bikes and tractors in the Alabama heat to watch as we passed (I had forgotten that people stop for funeral processions back home, even if their way is not impeded; it was really something, and looking out the windows I was reminded, just a little, of Paul Fusco's photographs of people who came to see Robert Kennedy's funeral train).

On Monday night, as we sat around eating homemade casseroles from countless Southern ladies and making plans, I shared BitterOldPunk's anecdote with my family, and they were delighted (and thought, even if they didn't know the word for it, that his post was eponysterical).
posted by ocherdraco at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

My grandfather was sent off in style yesterday, with a police honor guard at the funeral, and police officers saluting him from every intersection on the way to the cemetery,

I conduct funerals nearly every day, but the police honor guard never ceases to reduce me to tears. Thank you for those pictures of the funeral train. Dammit. You got me again.

Here's the honor guard at my dad's funeral this spring. And here's the local high school paying their respects. Thank you for sharing with us.
posted by ColdChef at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2009

posted by ColdChef at 1:43 PM on June 4, 2009

Oh, no, I just found this - you are in my thoughts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 PM on June 8, 2009

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