Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

January grief January 11, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:52 AM
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I TRAILED MY HUSBAND as he wheeled his dad through double doors and across door mats, guiding him between a duo line of young men waiting outside the care center.

Just moments earlier the group carried their grandmother’s casket, grey as the January skies that matched the mood of this Wednesday afternoon in central Minnesota.

Randy veered his dad’s wheelchair to the left, behind the coffin, behind the hearse that would carry my father-in-law’s wife two hours west to her burial plot in Montevideo. There she would be laid to rest in the cold soil beside her first husband.

Earlier we gathered inside the care center chapel to remember Jan and to seek comfort in words of Scripture, song, prayer and memories. I learned of my step mother-in-law’s fondness for Tator Tot Hotdish and doughnuts as my own memories surfaced of a woman who always looked lovely with nails painted, hair done, and clothes and jewelry just so. Twenty-two years ago I photographed her marriage to Tom, Randy standing beside him then just as he was now.

Now, with her family preparing for the 100-mile funeral processional westward, my wheelchair bound father-in-law had his final moments with his second wife. It took one heave of Tom’s shoulders for Randy to place his hand upon his dad’s shoulder in a loving and tender act of comfort. I did likewise as the funeral director slid the grey casket, brightened by a lovely spray of red flowers, inside the hearse, then shut the doors.

In that act of finality, grief for my father-in-law surged through me. To see him lose a second wife 24 years after losing his beloved Betty hurt my heart.

Yet, we are people of faith, confident that Jan, like Betty, is now in heaven, and no longer suffering. That comforted us as we headed back inside the care center to sip coffee and to eat ham sandwiches (made with homemade buns), chips and bars (baked by the hands of those who loved Jan). Absent, though, were my step mother-in-law’s favorite doughnuts and Tator Tot Hotdish.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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43 Responses to “January grief”

  1. Go Grandma Says:

    So sorry for your family’s loss.

  2. What a touching piece. So sorry for your loss Audrey.

  3. I am so sorry for your families loss and your poor father in law… widowed twice

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with your family during this time of grief. I’m so sorry for your loss. Hugs. Dawn

  5. Valerie Says:

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Thank you for sharing about it.

  6. Sharon Says:

    Sending prayers towards heaven for comfort and peace for you and Randy and family.

  7. DeLores Johnson Says:

    My sympathy to you and your family.

  8. So sorry for your family’s loss. Sending love and prayers. Take Care

  9. Jackie Says:

    So sorry for your families loss. Please give Randy our sympathy.

  10. I’m so sorry for this loss and your family’s grief. Hope you are able to spend some time remembering the things that made you happy together as you all work through this.

  11. Lynne King Says:

    So very sorry for the sorrow over the passing of your second mother-in-law. My faith tells me to rejoice in heaven’s gain, yet it is also hard to watch our older loved ones deal with the whys of grief. Hugs to you and your family.

  12. Littlesundog Says:

    I am so sorry to hear this news, Audrey. The winter months are the hardest (I think) to lose a loved one. The bitter cold adds to the sting of loss.

  13. Bernadette Says:

    My sympathy for your family’s loss. May the warmth of family, friends and memories keep your spirits up.

  14. bev walker Says:

    Sorry to hear of your mother in laws death. It is never easy but the reward of heaven is every believers ultimate goal! Hugs

  15. I’m sorry for your loss of your mother-in-law. It’s never easy to say good-bye. May the peace and comfort be with you and your family!

  16. Sorry for your loss- it’s so hard to say goodbye. And during such a cold time! Glad you have God’s comfort to sustain you. The church I grew up in had the best funeral luncheons- brought back memories.

  17. Almost Iowa Says:

    The loss of a loved one is always a hard but there is the time that we spend with each other after the services, sharing weak coffee, sandwiches and sweets….and though these may not be communion but they are as close as it get.

  18. Rosalie Quale Says:

    A beautiful tribute Audrey. I agree the most difficult part for me was to witness dad’s grief. It’s a long illness to watch someone you love slip away bit by bit.

  19. Susan Ready Says:

    your family is in our prayers. A second loss for your father in law is not easy but having family there to lean on helps to make through the sorrow.

  20. Beth Ann Says:

    I am so glad you were able to be there for him and for Randy. Losing our loved ones is never easy even if they have lived a long life. To watch your father in law grieve openly had to be heart wrenching but I am so glad that you were able to be there for him and be with those who love him and who loved Jan. Funeral luncheons are always something special. As are all the dishes that are brought to the home of the grieving family.

  21. So sorry for your loss.


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