• Shanley McConnell

How To Grieve On The Good Days: In Memory Of.

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Many of you know that my beloved great grandmother passed away here on earth last week. It was a Monday in the UK; we had spent hours staring at the screen into another world on the other side of glass, waiting for what we knew was to come: heaven.


I cannot begin to thank you enough for your overwhelming support and sympathy for my family and I this past week as we not only grieved, but also celebrated the great victory of her return to perfection as well as my recent graduation from the University of Dundee.


It's difficult to find the words to express how I feel. And I do not wonder why I have never heard anyone try to explain grief-on-good-days; it is just too uncanny. We all already know it well.


Halfway across the Ocean and a mausoleum away, my great grandmother's praise is being lifted up as her body descends into the ground, and I-------I feel so very far. I want to take her hand, and kiss the life as it leaves. It is already gone, I know, but there is a part of me that wants to be there. In the space between all the ones who loved her.


I've been awake for hours, since the sun rose and reminded me of all the glorious things that await today. I've reread and discovered all of the lovely messages sent from you around the world; I feel the warmth of them resting within; they remain there in the memories of all I have gained as I think about the precious one I have lost.


I am at peace. I feel at rest and ready for this day------to celebrate visiting friends, to remember fond moments in time, and to laugh through the new as I relive the old a few times over again.


I know that my great grandmother feels the same; I believe her joy to be as strong as it was the day we first met. To be received by as welcoming arms as she so often opened them to me. I feel the loss of her, but I know that this sorrow will one day be replaced with forever. A forever spent in the presence of all that is eternal.


This week has been for smiling; for applause and sunflowers and sweet things. It has been a good week; every day a beautiful one, brightened by shared adventures, a late-night hike, dress-up days, an airport drive, a dozen congratulations balanced on a window ledge, favourite books, a tea-party with china and cake, gifts wrapped in gold paper, a coffee date, the embrace of strengths shared after a shift finished at 2 a.m., and that long-awaited walk across that timeline stage.


I want to ask:


How is that one can feel as comforted as they feel sad; as content with here as they are eager to be elsewhere?

I don't have answer; perhaps it is something we come to learn as we grow. Or perhaps, it is as uncanny as that feeling of grieving on a good day------on the happiest of days.


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After graduation, two close friends of mine gifted me with a beautiful collection: Best-Loved Poems, A Treasure of Verse by Ana Sampson. I'd like to read this poem; let the words be my goodnight and i love you to my great grandmother on the day of her burial. When I read this poem, I picture her in my mind as young as me. She is dressed in Debutant grace; in the framed-art hung above the dinning room table, a face forever illuminated by chandelier light.


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She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow'd to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impair'd the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o'er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling place.


And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!


~ She Walks In Beauty, George Gordon, Lord Byron.






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