A few months ago, my spouse and I sat around a table with my entire family and announced a new member soon to arrive. The energy in the room was palpable: hugs, congratulations, and laughter. I felt so much excitement in sharing this news with my family, yet my mind wandered to the person not there to tell: my grandma. I could almost imagine her there with her sparkling eyes and playful grin. I wonder how she would have reacted and what she might have said. A deep sense of pain and sadness washed over me in that moment, an emptiness and a longing for the one not present. How could I be so excited and so sad at the same time?

Grief is funny in this way, a place where joy and pain cohabitate in a messy and beautiful tangle. It never fully disappears and that is okay. Although my grief is not as raw as it once was, it is still with me on my journey. It waxes and wanes.

At one point, I thought I had “finished” my grief. I read the books, followed the “stages,” and cried my tears. Then, I met my partner and got engaged. A fresh wave of grief washed over me as I imagined my grandma meeting this smart and witty individual and quickly remembered that she never would.

Not long after that, I graduated. I felt the grief creep in again and hoped my grandma would be proud. With every new change, transition, and celebration, I feel both happiness and pain.

Here I am again sitting on the cusp of a new adventure, filled with the excitement and wonder of what’s to come. I welcome the fresh wave of grief that comes with transition. Truth be told, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My relationship with my grandma and the love that we shared has shaped me and continues to do so. For now, I will sit in the duality of my emotions — pain and joy — and appreciate the gift of love.

“Grief and Love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” -Jandy Nelson

–by Hannah T., grief counselor