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The Joy of Grief

Yesterday evening, at approximately 6:30 pm EST, my stepfather passed away after a brief stay in a local hospital.  He was 86 years old.  His is a happy tale, though, so I thought I would share it here.  My birth father passed some years ago, and my mother struggled to recover from her grief.    I've written before here about how my father's passing affected me, but eventually - as these stories tend to go - the sharp edge wore away from my grief and was replaced by nostalgic remembrances of a life well-lived; a story well told.    My mother, however, felt differently.  For her, life seemed to come to a standstill.  She was ill prepared to manage the tasks that come with caring for a loved one's remains, and a lot of the work in that regard fell to me as an only child.     She retreated from life for a while, and the smiles that so often lit up her face fell to shadow.    Small tasks become unmanageable for her, and for a while I truly wondered if she'd make it.  But t

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