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March 23, 2013

Time doesn't heal all wounds

WASHINGTON — Death is hard. Death makes you sick to your stomach. Death brings about emotions we never knew we had. Above all else, death forces us to examine our own lives in a unique fashion.

Society tells us we are supposed to act and react a certain way around death. We talk about death in everyday life, but until we have to deal with death directly this is an exercise that is completely foreign. My grandfather, Donald Glade, passed away on Jan. 27, he was 86, and suddenly I had to deal with something I had thought about countless times.

Problem was, this was real.

As my grandparents got older, I had started a thought process of recognizing that at some point they wouldn't be here anymore for holidays and family get-togethers. This didn't prepare me for the situation whatsoever.

I drove down to Atlanta, where the funeral would take place with my brother Sean, who is two and a half years my junior. Sean has always been much more emotional than I, so I had an idea how he would react to the week's events.

We discussed my grandfather in many different facets, but it always came back to the fact that he was such a great person with a vibrant personality.

In the 36 hours prior to arriving in Atlanta, I just had an empty feeling inside. I hadn't cried, and I wasn't sure if this was normal.

When we arrived at the funeral home for the showing, everything became real and hit me like a ton of bricks. There he was, lying peacefully in a coffin.

He didn't look any different than if he were taking a nap. Sean began to cry, but still nothing from me. I felt incredibly sad, and the reality that I would never make a tiny $2 bet over the Super Bowl or NCAA Tournament or discuss how my journalism career was progressing ate me up inside.

I was supposed to visit him in March and share a meal, but none of that mattered now.

The day of the funeral, it rained, of course. I was sandwiched in a pew between Sean and my father. They both cried throughout the service. My father, so emotional he couldn't read his eulogy because of his grief. My step mother, Julie, read it for him. I couldn't blame him, though, I can't imagine the grief he was dealing with.

As I looked around at my family to see how they were handling it, I realized that everybody deals with grief differently. The way I was handling it wasn't abnormal, just my process.

Death, no matter how sad and depressing, teaches us about ourselves. It teaches us things that we don't fully understand until later in life. It's a feeling that stays with us deep inside.

A day hasn't gone by since he passed away that I don't think about him.

My birthday, April 2nd, this year will be a little strange without him calling me at 11 a.m., and giving me his trademark, "Are you awake yet." It's those little things that I will always remember, along with his unique high roaring laugh. My father inherited the laugh as well. I could recognize that thing anywhere. I used to think it would be horrible to end up with that laugh late in my life, but now I would cherish it.


Dennis can be reached at

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