family · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry

How Do You Mourn the Loss of A Loved One?


Grief is a topic that many people turn their backs on–I challenge you to answer the question because I will!

My Aunt Willie Urbanoski died on Friday, October 12, 2018, and because of family circumstances, we didn’t have her memorial service until yesterday, November 10. We did have a private family burial on Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Yesterday, the service was full of stories, pictures, laughter and tears–a real celebration of a woman who lived to be 98 years old–almost 99 because her birthday was Wednesday, November 7.

A second cousin stationed in England couldn’t attend to service, so her sisters did a live feed to her, so she and her husband could attend virtually–a 21st century way to handle loss.

How do YOU mourn the dead? For family? For friends? We all do it differently. My Mom’s sage advice: do it your way. I have a strong need to attend the memorial, view the body and get closure to the relationship. My best friend, Candy, died in 2012, and I was sick and couldn’t attend her service, and I have regretted it for years–no closure for me.

I wrote my aunt a poem for Christmas, 2012, and a week after my Mom died in March, 2013, Aunt Willie asked me if I would read that poem at her funeral. I said I would, but I’d cry all the way through it. She said she didn’t care because she wouldn’t be there!

So yesterday, I mustered my strength and read it–I got almost to the end before the tears came. Here’s the poem–I hope you enjoy it!

La's Poem & John
Presenting My Poem–Some Humor for Sure

My Aunt Wee Wee

By: Larada Horner-Miller

December 25, 2012

Revised: November 9, 2018

You will always be Aunt Wee Wee!

As a child, Bub couldn’t pronounce “Aunt Willie,” so it came out

“Aunt Wee Wee,” and it stuck.

As I look back through my life,

You have always been there,

Aunt Wee Wee!

When I became an Aunt,

I followed your lead!

I wanted to touch my

nieces and nephews’ lives

the way you touched mine!

I have valued all the wonderful times

we spent together over the years.

You grace so many

of my memories!

As a toddler

I can remember

when I looked into your eyes, I saw a playful sparkle


“Yeah, Larada,

I love you!”

In my childhood,

at Branson dances,

I remember watching

you and Uncle Hughie dance,

and the fun you had.

I remember 4th of July picnics and fireworks

Bub and I couldn’t wait until you arrived with Black Cats!

You came all the way from Albuquerque!

As a family, we went to Albuquerque.

You shared your beautifully decorated cakes.

We went on shopping sprees to the mall.

Delicious Thanksgiving dinners shared!

Our fishing trips

Our time together at Springer lake

You sat religiously by the lake, pole in hand.

While Uncle Hughie and I set up our poles

and roamed!

My week stay with you in Albuquerque-

A visit to Old Town

The Tram and dinner on the top! I felt like a princess!

As a young adult

You attended all of my major life events:

My 8th grade graduation

Princess at the TSJC tournament

My high school graduation

My TSJC graduation

We’ve continued that

precious relationship into my adulthood.

My weddings

You attended my first 2 weddings.

No one attended the third.

Lin and I knew you were with us in spirit at ours.

As our second anniversary approached, Aunt Willie repeated often,


Yes, Lin and I celebrated our second anniversary

with you in Pueblo— pictures, cake, laughter and love abounded.

I had several special visits while you

were in Logan, UT and now in Pueblo.

Some people I’ve known for a short time

and they only know me one dimensionally.

You have known me forever, and you know the many

sides of me.

You smile, and

you make me smile.

You know all about me,

and you make me feel good

about being me.

You love to laugh and enjoy life.

Often you catch me by surprise

with your witty humor, and we share a belly laugh.

In that laughter

I am no longer 59; You are no longer 93.

We are young again, frolicking on the floor.

My Aunt Wee Wee!

That’s the power you have always had–to make me smile

To make me laugh and

To make me feel good about myself!

What a gift!

I haven’t called you

“Aunt Wee Wee” for years,

but you always will be — my Aunt Wee Wee!

Copyright © 2018 Larada Horner-Miller

How do you mourn the loss of a family member? A friend? I’d love to see your comments. Remember–there’s no right or wrong way to do it!

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2 thoughts on “How Do You Mourn the Loss of A Loved One?

  1. My father Frederick William Crandal II. Dad died almost two years ago. His wife called us and told us we should come and we went to the hospital. Fred the III, Chris and I went with and were together and able to talk to him before he died.

    Dad had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The lung stops functioning and sounds like breaking glass when the doctor listens. My sister died about seven years ago of the same disease. But my fathers struggle was different. At 81 he had very good health except for sleep apnea and some skin cancer. I spoke to him three weeks before he was in the hospital and he was washing dishes while my step-mother was visiting her mother in the hospital.

    I loved my dad. He and I argued about politics for hours at a time. We discussed some things about the bible. He took us on so many camping trips to Yankee Springs that I can’t count them. He loved nature and shared it with us in a way that has made wrinkles in my brain and a green shade to my soul.

    I also hated my father. He abused my sisters and I in ways we didn’t talk about in the 50’s and 60’s. He did not admit this on his death bed. He did realize I never wanted to be alone with him. He made sure that I was comfortable as we both aged and he would want me to visit. This made being with dad a much easier thing. I was able to enjoy his company and the company of his wife.

    My fathers wife, Sharon, sat by him on the bed in the hospital. She stroked his brow and told him she understood what he meant when he told her about his frustration with his illness. He didn’t complain. My brother and sister and I sat silently. Smiling when we could but obviously devastated that we were saying goodbye. We made dad uncomfortable and Sharon asked us to go ahead on home now. What?

    When my sister Jean died we sat vigil with her even though she was unconscious. We never left her. One of my siblings or myself were always there. I told Sharon I was not leaving but she and my father told me they wanted me to go. I left with questions in my heart but a clear sense that I was not wanted there. I decided that I should honor them even though I felt a little hurt.

    When dad died a few weeks later I attended his funeral in Tennessee. Sharon and dad decided on Tennessee because dad had no preference and she would be buried there with the rest of her family.

    The funeral was comforting. My brother Fred played his harmonica and I sang one verse of Amazing Grace. But the rest of the family left directly after the ceremony! Again, what?
    I wanted to share stories, to remember good things and generally remember dad. But, Sharon and my brother had been to a memorial with family and many friends in Michigan. They did not need more time to mourn. I cried just a few tears and left in the opposite direction in a rental car. I had another day and night before my plane left so I drove through the country in Tennessee to the airport.

    I sighed and realized a part of my life was freed now. I never have to worry about being with my father and him kissing me or touching me in a way that felt so wrong.

    The drive through the soft rolling hills, seeing the occasional group of six cows grazing on my left or right uplifted my spirit and I sang Gods praises for allowing me this time. Thank you for allowing me to see the best of my father and to say good bye to the struggles of being around him. Thanks for giving me a conviction to remember the hurt for others sakes. To know there is life outside the pain of being treated so badly by someone I trusted when I was an innocent child.

    Thanks that Sharon gave us some pictures of my Dad as a child because I know that is how God sees him. I will always think of Dad this way too.

    1. Sherrie, Wow! Thanks for your detailed heartfelt description of your process of losing your Dad. I so admire your willingness to be present and also to honor yourself in the process. You are amazing!

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