The Gift of Comfort Through Others

Author: David Gross

The third anniversary of Kevin’s passing was in March. Over that time, I have learned that my grief can come at any moment, anywhere, and in a variety of ways, some almost subtle, some violent outbursts, and everything in between. 

I have also learned that comfort and support for my loss can come at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. Many months ago, I had a dentist appointment in town, but before that I visited Kevin’s grave at Oregon’s Willamette National Cemetery. As I made my way down the hill I got a call from the office. I was late, and was I coming? Yes, I said. I thought the appointment was at 1:30 but it was actually at 1:00. Yes, I am only 10 minutes away, I said.

Headstone and rose

Major Kevin Gross
Major Kevin Peter Gross

When I arrived, I apologized to the receptionist, a woman I knew from past appointments. I explained I had been to the National Cemetery visiting with my lost son, and then was hurried back to my waiting dental chair. 

As I was checking out after my procedure, the receptionist asked what I had said as I came in. I must have been talking too fast. She was confused. I explained that I had lost my son some time before and he was buried up at the National Cemetery. “Oh,” she said, “I am so sorry.” I said that he was a military man, and showed her his photo, in dress blues, that I carry in my organizer wherever I go. She looked at Kevin and remarked that he was such a good-looking man. “Yes,” I said. “He was 46.” She looked up at me, our eyes met. I could tell she had been moved, and she said, almost softly, “My age. Today is my birthday.” 

A moment passed. “Well, Happy Birthday!” I replied. And she smiled. But as I turned to go she said, “Wait!” She came around the counter, embraced me, and held me for what seemed like a full minute. I whispered, “Thank you, that means a lot.” A tear came to my eye as she released me. We said good-bye, and I drove the two hours home with her comfort wrapped around me. A comfort that had come at such an unexpected time and in such an unexpected way.

Editor’s Note: As we move through our daily lives, we can have chance encounters that allow us to share our loved ones, make a connection, and experience comfort that stays with us. We never know when that comfort may come just when we need it. We invite you to share your unexpected moments. Send us a note at

David Gross is the surviving father of Maj. Kevin Gross, U.S. Army National Guard

Photo courtesy of TAPS Archives and David Gross