Big Little Things

Losing someone you love is hard. Maybe that’s not a profound statement but it is no less true. If you have not lived through the loss of a loved one, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around just how hard it can be.

Over the past 5 years, I have experienced loss – a lot of it. It started with the death of my dog, Hattie, then my dog, Davis, and then my cat, Riah. Some may say, rightly so, that the death of a pet is different than the death of a person. Nevertheless, it is where my journey with grief began.

That journey continued a month later with the death my dad to Stage 4 lung cancer. Then, just 2 years later, my journey continued with the death of my mom to Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Loss is different every time you experience it – sometimes it’s a little less difficult and other times the devastation seems unbearable.

While this is a story one of many losses in my life that started 5 years ago, the things that I discovered back then still hold true today. It is my prayer that sharing something I learned may help someone else.

If you have ever navigated the strange and complicated process of grief, you are ahead of the curve, so to speak, with respect to this post. But if not, this is my feeble attempt to help you understand, albeit in a very abstract way, what loss and grief is like.

My deaf Dalmatian, Davis was a member of my family. Not having a spouse or children, he was my “baby” boy. Davis was the reason I loved to come home. He was my comfort at night, knowing that “someone” was with me in my house – besides just me.

After Davis died, I came to the realization that it is the “little” things that make the grieving process so difficult. That is not to say that the shock and grief of losing a loved one is easy – it certainly is not, even if it is expected. But after the initial shock, the funeral is over, and the immediate support system slows to a trickle, every day life returns – in a foggy sort of way.

Life goes on, with or without your loss. The time continuum continues. You see, in most cases, there are things in our lives that require that we continue to engage the world, even when we want to sit down in the middle of it and just cry. So, like it or not, either we press on or life pushes us forward.

All grief is different; however, there are some things that are commonly experienced, which is what brings me to those “little” things.

After Davis died, I was impacted by the “bigness” of those “little” things. I tried to continue in life and regain some sense of normal. But those “little” things just kept hitting me when I least expected it. They were like those little loose pebbles in my driveway that get stuck in my feet sometimes when I walk outside barefoot. Most of the time, they are not crippling, but rather just uncomfortable enough to make me stop and take notice.

So what are those “little” things? They are the things that I took for granted; things that I was so used to that I never gave them a second thought.

For example, Davis loved carrots and bananas.  So, on my weekly trip to the grocery store, I bought A LOT of them, mostly for him and if there were any left over, I would eat them.

About a week after he died, I brought my grocery cart around a corner headed toward the produce section and the bananas. Suddenly, I found myself fighting to hold back a deep sob because of the “bigness” of that little thing – bananas. Now I had to think twice about how many I would actually eat by myself.

Davis was neurotic in his routine, which of course drove me to be the same about mine – to make him more comfortable, of course. Preparing for bed was very precise, with each of my actions driving Davis to his responding reaction. Shower time for me meant that Davis moved from his bed in the family room to the couch in the living room (closer to where I was). Brushing my teeth meant it was time for him to go “potty” one last time. My routine wasn’t a routine without Davis.

The first night that I slept in my room without Davis in his bed next to mine, the silence was deafening.  There was no “click, click” of his toe nails on the tile wandering around the room checking to make sure I was settled in bed. There was no rhythmic sound of his breathing as we both drifted off to sleep. I turned on an air purifier to mask the stillness.

The next morning, I instinctively awoke at 4:27 AM which was usually around the time Davis would give a bold, sharp bark to wake me up; after 27 minutes of “subtle” attempts to annoy me out of be by pawing various objects in the room.

The clock confirmed that it was 4:27 AM, but I didn’t have to jump out of bed to let him out, feed him and then try to coax him into going back to sleep; not that day – or any more days since.

When I left the house the first time after he was gone, I felt as though I was forgetting something; I didn’t have to cut up carrots for him as a “be good while I’m gone” treat. When I returned home, I instinctively called out “Hi Buddy-boo!” but this time it wasn’t falling on his deaf ears, it was only echoing, suddenly very loudly, in my own.

These are just a few of the “little” things that were like that pebble stuck in my bare feet; painful enough to make me stop and take notice. With time, the pain doesn’t sting quite as much, but back then, those “little” things were really quite big and painful.

I don’t know the eyes reading this or where they have been or how much they have cried, but God does. He sees you. He knows your story. He understands your pain.

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, I am here to let you know that it is okay to take as much time as you need. Anyone who may say that you should be “done” by now simply does not understand; someday they will. Try to give them grace.

I am also here to let you know that it is perfectly acceptable to need to lean on someone other than God during the process of grief. God gave us each other that we would be able to comfort each other. There are many Christian counselors who specialize in grief and who can support you as you travel this path. I encourage you to use this resource and not be ashamed to seek it out.

If you know someone who is grieving, the best support sometimes is simply your presence. Recognize that grief is not necessarily over as quickly as you may expect: it is uncomfortable and messy. Be willing to walk alongside that person in their journey with patience.

There are times when silence speaks louder than words. The presence of a friend, even in silence, and the comforting touch of others is what has meant the most to me in my own journey through grief. These are the gifts that help take the “bigness” out of those painful “little” things that hit the grieving along their way.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4- Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.


Raised in the Midwest, Molly Messer discovered writing as a way of coping with a tumultuous life resulting from an unstable family, sexual abuse and assault, trauma, and a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Molly has had extensive technical writing experience in the environmental field. However, her passion is to share relatable stories and information in ways that encourage and inspire others. Her insatiable desire to learn and teach combined with transparency and deep compassion for others, enables her to reach out in unique ways through the written word. She started her first blog in 2012 (www.godmycomfort.wordpress.com) with the desire to find joy in the midst of sorrow after her father’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. She recently started to write blogs for The Clinical Christian delving into the challenges of mental illness and stigma related to mental health both inside and outside the church.

 


Molly Messer

Raised in the Midwest, Molly Messer discovered writing as a way of coping with a tumultuous life resulting from an unstable family, sexual abuse and assault, trauma, and a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Molly has had extensive technical writing experience in the environmental field. However, her passion is to share relatable stories and information in ways that encourage and inspire others. Her insatiable desire to learn and teach combined with transparency and deep compassion for others, enables her to reach out in unique ways through the written word. She started her first blog in 2012 (www.godmycomfort.wordpress.com) with the desire to find joy in the midst of sorrow after her father’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. She recently started to write blogs for The Clinical Christian delving into the challenges of mental illness and stigma related to mental health both inside and outside the church.


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