How Do You Mend a Broken Heart


It's a cloudy Monday morning in rural Indiana.

I'm not riding around on a tractor or shucking corn, nor am I enjoying my favorite culinary Indiana staple, Pizza King.

I am at my grandmother's funeral.

I've been in town for less than twenty-four hours, but it is enough time for me to see, quite distinctly, how insensitive people can truly be. 

Who loved her more now that she's gone, who is going to be the most traumatized about her passing and who can garner the most attention by it, how she would have hated this or that.

I know that family can turn ugly, especially when emotions are involved, but it really makes you stop and think about life and how you want to be treated when you see how hurtful some people can be to each other. Especially the people that are supposed to love each other the most.  

A funeral should be a time when everyone comes together to celebrate a life.  It shouldn't become a battlefield where sides are drawn.  Everyone hurts in one way or another.  Everyone there has lost something.  That's why they are there.

But a funeral can seem to bring out heartbreak warfare better than any other place.

I watched as the family of the deceased made it fully known that they didn't want to view the body.

"I don't want to see her."

"I can't see her like that."

"I'm not going in there."

Fine, that's your choice. I can fully understand and sympathize with your decision. It is no easy task to look at the body of someone that you loved, that loved you, only to realize that they are no longer with you.  It's a personal decision.  

But her husband wanted to see her.

One last time.

And no-one volunteered to go with him.

Not one person said "I'll go with you." Not one person came to his side.

So, he started the walk.


I watched this man, this ninety-year-old man that on any normal day still had the spring in his step of a forty-year-old, a man that had a smile and a kind word for anyone he saw, a man that lived in his own bubble of contentment, a genuinely happy man.

And now, I saw him. Really saw him.

A man with hunched shoulders, a man with clouded eyes. A broken man.

I walked up and took his hand.

I began to walk with him.

We entered that room, just the two of us and I gave his hand a squeeze.

We walked up to the casket and there laid my grandmother. No longer the scared, fragile woman lost in her reality. Not knowing who her loved ones were, crying out in pain whenever she was touched. Wasting away because she no longer wanted to eat. A woman beaten by Alzheimer's.

She looked at peace.  

Make-up done, dressed in her Sunday best, hands that looked like melting wax folded across her. You could almost imagine that she was merely sleeping.

But she wasn't.

And that's when this man, this man who loved my grandmother more than anything, who put up with her, who put up with her family (and we're collectively a bunch of assholes), a man who gave her the world, called her playful names, sang to her; this man who truly adored her with everything that he had, finally broke down.

He cried out with emotion that I have only seen from actors in a movie. His knees buckled. He was in such anguish that he broke even my cold heart.

We stood there, holding hands, crying together. He with howls and I with silent tears.

I have had heartache like this once but not for someone that was my other half. Not the one that completed me.

I couldn't imagine the pain that he was going through. Knowing that he'd never hear her laugh at his jokes again, casually sit beside her on the front porch swing, listening to the sounds of the farm on a cool autumn evening. Never hold her hand again. Never see her smile.

He collected himself and others started to walk in to pay their respects.

How do you take that emotion and express it?

How do you take a melody and add lyrics to portray the sadness and grief that lives inside of you?

What tunes make you "ugly cry"?

What songs are on your heartbreak mix tape?


"Dreaming with a Broken Heart" ... John Mayer

"How Do You Mend a Broken Heart" ... Al Green

"Most of the Time" ... Bob Dylan

"End of the Road" ... Boys II Men

"There's No Easy Way" ... James Ingram

"Oh No" ... Commodores

"I Can't Make You Love Me" ... George Michael

Gravity (Stripped) ... Sara Bareilles

"Ain't No Way" ... Aretha Franklin

"Sometimes it Snows in April" ... Prince

"Lately" ... Stevie Wonder

"Old Man River" ... Ray Charles

"To Where You Are" ... Josh Groban

"If Anybody Had a Heart" ... John Waite

"And So It Goes" ... Billy Joel

"Almost Blue" ... Chet Baker

"New York's Not My Home" ... Jim Croce