It feels odd or anomalous or wrong to feel grateful in someone’s death. Although maybe significantly less so when dealing with long-suffering illness or possibly the final demise of a nemesis and personal wrong-doer. But neither truly fit here.

Recently my grandmother died (affectionately called “Mema”). Her health had been declining year by year (I was actually concerned that she would die while I was out of the country), but never more so than in the last few months when her energy and ability to breath seemed to be elsewhere. Her loss is felt more by my cousins, who grew up with her in the house with near-constant contact, and by her two remaining sons (the one missing being my dad). My sister, substantially more emotionally connected than I, experienced grief in the loss of stories and tangible connection with our dad, like she was losing a piece of him as well (in addition to normal reasons of grief associated with losing a loved one).

But I find myself in an awkward place: although her absence will be felt, the inheritance that she left has moved me out of debt. Living outside of my means only occurred when my means were zero … i.e. unemployed, living and schooling abroad, after my years of savings diminished. Others’ generosity (e.g. when I’m so broke I can’t fly myself home from Germany) was greatly appreciated and kept me from consequential credit card debt or having to get any official bank loan, but I like it better when I owe nothing to nobody. I feel relief to be cleared and squared away (at least for a bit until my auto gets to its last leg).

So what am I left with? Relief and gratefulness … sadly. (At least the sad part comes in somewhere.)