On Life and Loss

It wasn’t whether or not I would write this post, it was more a matter of when.

For some, blogging about personal life issues feels taboo and while I’ve never been one to sit back and pretend like everything is okay, I partly agree. There are certain stories or situations in my life which are too rough and raw, or ones I simply don’t have the liberty of divulging. When I do share, I do it because I find writing to be therapeutic and it allows me to move forward, in a way.

deciding how personal to get on the blog + a story of my own

My sweet Grandpa passed away unexpectedly at the end of August and losing him hit me hard. Much harder than I ever could have imagined. Perhaps my mind is too small to comprehend someone being on this earth one minute and gone forever in the next.

Ironically, nothing I wrote seemed good enough and ultimately I thought I’d share a piece that my sister wrote.


My Grandpa Don was ornery, selfless and absolutely lovable until his very last moment with us. He worked hard well beyond his retirement (two weeks ago today he was chopping down a tree), but took plenty of breaks for iced tea, reading the paper and countless games of solitaire on the computer. He introduced me to ginger ale, sarcasm (tearfully at first, though I eventually caught on and joined in his love language) and a love for pickled foods. He forced me to drive when I was terrified and certain I didn’t need to learn (in a fantasy world my older sister would tote me around forever, plus ‘my great grandma never drove, people took her to the to grocery store her whole life, it was great’).

He patiently played Phase 10 on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, always kept the fire going at Grandma’s during winter, and kissed her on top of her head more times than I can remember.

Grandpa’s family and his spirit stretches across the U.S. and around the world, he loved his kids, his adopted kids, his grandkids, grandkids that he sometimes raised as his own kids, his kid’s-new-husband’s-kids (that he and Grandma delightedly welcomed as their granddaughters twenty some years ago), his hockey billet kids, friends and neighbors, his entire scattered and eclectic family.

He wore khaki pants and button down shirts, used hairspray to keep his few silver strands in place, and almost always had a toothpick jutting from the corner of his smile. He smelled like the outdoors, a splash of aftershave and an occasional field fire. He got a kick out of listening to oldies, watching family, his cats (I promise there’s nothing sweeter than a 77-year-old man cuddling a kitten) and tinkering. When Jess and I were young, he built us a swing set with a tree house. We used and loved the hell out of it and then it sat for some years. He pieced it apart, breathed new life into it and hauled it to our folks’ house for Daws, Harp and Cam to enjoy.

He was simply the best. 


My heart physically hurts knowing he is gone and some days are filled with more tears than others, but how could they not be? Those tears are a testament to his greatness.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my Grandpa was not to half-ass anything. And I mean anything. Growing up, everything was always done the right way, no matter how long it took. That’s the sentiment I’d like to meditate on moving forward – especially when it comes to this blog.

The ebb and flow of life has never felt more real and I appreciate you letting me share everything that encompasses my life with you all here, including the tough, sad parts.

*Inspired to open up and get things off my chest by my friend Annie. Snapchat photo of my Grandpa’s newest kitten, courtesy of my baby sister, Harper 🙂


Join The Discussion

  1. Sarah Lagen

    Jess, this is so sweet!! Your sister wrote a beautiful piece about your grandpa!! You are so lucky to have spent so much quality time with you and can cherish those memories forever! Sending you my love girl!! 🙂

  2. Alexandra

    Such sweet words from your sister. They truly painted a picture of your grandpa for me. I’m so sorry for your loss it sounds like you have many wonderful memories to keep your grandpa’s spirit alive 🙂

  3. Whitney

    From your words, Jordan’s words, and your family dynamic I am absolutely certain he was an amazing man. Having him in your life seemed like a true treat and I know you and your fam will carry on his ways with you forever. Death absolutely sucks and having people to go through it with and be there makes it a little less sucky. I love you and am always here 🙂

  4. Rachel

    I’m so sorry for your loss Jess. Losing grandparents is heartbreaking. I lost two of mine three years ago and it still hurts/I burst into tears when I think about it too much. Stay strong! I will be thinking of you and your family!

  5. Rachelle

    So sorry for your loss and you honored him really well, this is a very sweet post. He sounded like an amazing person. Thinking of you and stay strong. **hugs**

  6. Hayley Larue

    So sorry to hear about your loss. I’m glad you were able to share it, though. Each year, on the anniversary of my dear cousin’s passing, I write something for him on my blog as well. It’s always nice to let those words out, even if it’s just through computer keys. 🙂 Sending love and prayers to you! <3


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