Dealing with Death

April 25, 2023
Matthew Coffman, LPC

The struggle of dealing with death

Death is never easy. Recently my grandmother died, and it hit me hard. She was amazing, and spent time building a relationship with me that will forever impact me. It makes me think about what death does to people, and how we can manage dealing with something so all-consuming. I had a professor once say, death is like a war, and [dealing with it, means] you still need to figure out how to manage all of your troops – it makes sense that he was in the military.

However, the sentiment remains. Often death traps us, and keeps us from moving forward with our lives. The more meaningful it was to us, the more intense those feelings are. It's like a war waging in your own body. Knowing that we need to continue to lead your lives, but struggling to get back up from the impact, is the difficulty. Often, therapy can help with this. It can help us get our soldiers moving in the right direction again.

...Okay, enough with the analogy. Death is hard, and dealing with it can be even harder. We care and want you to know that we are here if you need to talk, or share some of the beautiful stories of that person that you lost; and as a way of sharing that vulnerability, I am going to share the sentiments that I said at my grandmothers funeral.

My grandmother's eulogy

“Inch by inch, life’s a cinch, and yard by yard, life is hard.” This quote made up the majority of my childhood. Every time I struggled with something, or needed to be reminded that life wasn’t as hard as I was making it out to be, my grandmother would say this quote. I remember periods of my life filled with tears, where I didn’t think I could manage something, and my grandmother’s voice would say “inch by inch.” It had inundated so many parts of my life that everyone I knew had knowledge of this wisdom.

For years I thought this was something that my grandmother had made up. I believed she created this small piece of sage wisdom all on her own. She didn’t. I found out in college that it was from a hymn that people rarely sang anymore. Instead of disheartening me, I realized my grandmother practiced what really wise people do. She took the wisdom handed down from others and incorporated it in to her own life. Because of her wisdom I was impacted.

This small quote has walked me through life, but like anything of real value, I shared it. I have probably said this hundreds of times to friends, family members, and loved ones. It never lost its ability to reframe difficult situations; or remind us to slow down. That’s what is so amazing about wisdom, it can be shared and still have the sting of truth.

This one memory is only part of what made my grandmother so special. She was sweet and kind, and loved people so much that it made them love her. She was a master at making decaffeinated coffee, and reminded us that every day was a gift. She is gone now, but the memories and wisdom will remain.

The true blessing, that we don’t fully understand till those we love are gone, is that her impact on my life will effect the lives of those that I touch. I can hope that a part of her light will continue to impact everyone around me for as long as I live. In this tear filled moment I can hear my grandmother’s voice saying, inch by inch, life‘s a cinch, and yard by yard life is hard.


Matt and his grandmother, June

Cover photo by Jerms from Pexels