I don’t like Easter.

There, I said it.

I have nothing against egg-laying bunnies, fancy baskets, or the resurrection of Jesus.

It’s just that grief is a long, difficult process.

Easter brings up many, many memories of my over-the-top, holiday-loving dad.

Like that time he put his Styrofoam cup of coffee a little too close to the Styrofoam cup of blue egg dye and ended up sporting bright blue teeth on Easter morning. Or the time he decided to hide real hard-boiled eggs in the yard for my cute little toddler self to find, but he hid them so well we didn’t find one until July.

Or that time when, at a little after 9 o’clock the night before Easter, I held his hand as he died.

Yeah, that one stands out.

It’s been nearly six years since that day, but Easter hasn’t gotten much easier for me. Every time I see egg-dying kits on a store shelf, my mind drifts to the phone call from my mother telling me to come now, because we had only hours left. The egg-dying kit I had clutched in my hands during that phone call is forever burned into my memory. That memory is, however, softened by the memory of my best friend, who had shown up with her family to paint eggs together at exactly the right moment. She gently took the kit from my hands as I hung up the phone, while whispering that she would make sure the kids had a great time, and that she would take tons of pictures. As she guided me to the door, urging my husband to make the two-hour drive as quickly and safely as we could, she assured me that she would stay with my kids as long as I needed her to, even if it meant spending the night at my house and celebrating Easter morning with them.

Each year as I lay out Easter baskets for my children, I am brought back to the hours after my dad’s passing. Those hours in which we made the decision that my husband and I would make the trip back home in the middle of the night so that my mother-in-law didn’t have to be the one to break the news to the kids. When we arrived home at 3 a.m., we found that my wonderful Jewish mother-in-law had rummaged through our house to find the Easter treats and lovingly set up her grandchildren’s Easter baskets for them to find in the morning.

The loss of a parent is a heartbreaking event. When it occurs near a holiday, though, grief can hit at any storefront. Yearly reminders of painful times lie on colorful endcaps, and cheer can be a difficult emotion to find.

How do I cope with this grief?

I find ways to honor him.

My son is named in honor of his grandpa. My dad and I shared a love for the Beatles. A line in one of his favorite songs says to “take a sad song, and make it better.” Thus – my little guy is named Jude. He shares his grandpa’s blue eyes and joyous grin, his mischievous streak, and his penchant for a well-placed swear. (We are working on fixing that one!)

We keep his picture visible.

I also keep mementos that remind me of him on my China cabinet. His police badge is prominently displayed, as is a beautiful memory lamp given to me at his funeral by two of my closest friends. 

I talk about my dad often.

My kids love to hear stories about their grandpa. We talk so freely that his little namesake doesn’t realize that he never actually met his grandpa.

I find joy in things he would have loved.

I make an effort to take my children to events that I know he looked forward to taking them to when they were old enough. We have gone to air shows, The Big E, and ridden on the very first roller coaster that he took me on when I was 7.

My dad may not be here to celebrate holidays by my side, but I still put forth an effort to make them as joyous for my children as he made them for me. So, if you see me grumbling as I slump down the Easter aisle, or wiping away tears as I stand in front of the eggs, please know that I really don’t hate pink bunnies.

I just really love my dad.


Deanna Greenstein
Deanna is a mom of five (yes, five) children, who lives in Brockton with her small circus of kids, her husband, their dog Penny, and a few cats. Her life is loud, energetic, mostly fun, often gross (did she mention four of those kids are boys?), and she wouldn't have it any other way. In between carting kids to school, baseball, gymnastics, guitar, dance, track and field and every other kid activity known to mankind, she works as a school bus driver for the city of Brockton, and is the Director of Religious Education at the Unity Church of North Easton, a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Deanna also holds degrees in Elementary Physical Education and Dance Education, which she plans to put back into use one day. At parties, Deanna can often be found hanging out with family pets. She follows her children around with a camera like the paparazzi, is pretty sure that 97% of her blood stream is made of coffee, and her laundry is never done. You can also find her blogging at https://eighteenmoreyearsofburpsandfarts.wordpress.com