Good-bye to little Lizzie

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In November I wrote about Lizzie, the fantastic, little Shih Tzu dog. She lived life to the fullest, trusting those who owned and cared for her. Even though her eyesight was challenged, she walked ahead in faith showing joy and contentment in her circumstances – living in a small, love-filled, New York apartment with my son and daughter-in-law.

Two days ago, little Lizzie closed her eyes for the last time. She got really sick and the doctors just couldn’t help her overcome the illness this time. When my son called me Monday morning, sobbing, my heart broke. Both he and his wife loved that little dog. The short time I had with her last year endeared her to me as well. She was good-natured, loving, gentle, and smart.

My son made the comment that it was the small stuff that hurt the worst. He compared missing and saying good-bye to little Lizzie to the grief of losing his dad four years ago. Not being able to pick up the phone and call his dad on the walk home from the subway had hurt deeply. Realizing that there would be no more such conversations would strike him each day as he followed through with his routine. The everyday tasks tend to remind you of your loss at the most unexpected times.

Now as he faces coming home without having Lizzie greet him at the door, he realizes that the little things count. I hear him grieve as he won’t be able to take Lizzie out for her bedtime walk. Sitting and watching TV or working on his computer won’t be interrupted by her little snores as she sleeps nearby.

Facing grief, we prepare for the big things. We expect the special holidays, the birthdays, or anniversaries to be difficult. However, how do you plan for missing someone you love every time you open a door or get ready for bed? How do you guard your heart and mind against the small, frequent moments that occur daily? When will it feel “normal” again to awaken to each new day without the one you have lost?

Saying good-bye to little Lizzie can serve as a reminder that we hurt much because we love much. So embrace the memories you hold. Be glad for the time you had together. Trust that you will make it through the hard times of pain and sadness as you journey through your grief. Strive to lean upon those who are close to you, seeking their support and encouragement. Let others help you as you learn to live after saying good-bye.

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Bubble Wrap

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Happy Bubble Wrap Day! This handy material is loved by many, not only for its usefulness in protecting breakables, but also for its entertainment value. I am one who loves to squeeze and pop those bubbles. There is a real sense of satisfaction in applying pressure and feeling the air release noisily, possibly startling those standing nearby.

There are other kinds of bubbles that we encounter throughout life. I thought it might be beneficial to address one of those. We have already covered the fun of popping these lovely, squishy pockets of air. So let us move on to something a little more serious.

Certain people are raised in such a way that positions them in a type of bubble atmosphere throughout their lives. While this sounds like a type of paradise – to be protected and coddled – it is actually a precarious way to live. No one can be sheltered forever. Cruelties of life will eventually be realized and suffered. I believe it is better to be prepared and equipped to handle these difficulties rather than let them catch us unaware.

How do we handle things when our bubble wrap-protected lives burst? I believe a key to traveling that journey well is to be prepared ahead of time. We need to realize that no matter how hard we try to remain sheltered and safe, there is the possibility that something undesirable will eventually happen to us. Living in this crazy, rough world promises that to be true. No one is perfect and no one has a perfect life. Knowing that fact helps prepare us for the inevitable.

Who can help us through these perilous times? I find my strength in God. Because of Him and the precious people He has placed in my life, I have been able to not only survive my grief journey, but I feel I can see the other side of it more clearly now. The pain and hurt have lessened as I traveled these past four years. My relationship with Christ has grown as I have learned to trust and lean upon Him more.

I believe we must be willing to have our bubble popped occasionally. If we live to only protect ourselves and hide in fear of mishaps and unfortunate events in life, we forfeit opportunities to impact and influence others along the way. When we show the world that we can survive difficult times, learning to smile, laugh, and enjoy life in spite of hardship, others will be encouraged. Letting those around us know that there is always hope, is a message worth sharing.

How do you protect your bubble? Are you willing to risk the occasional puncture in order to make a difference in someone else’s life? I would like to urge you to try, knowing you can count on God and special people around you to help when the air escapes and your bubble bursts periodically.

Squeeze and pop some bubble wrap today, visualizing how much richer your life will be if you to reach out to others in need.

Until next time –

Karen

Positive Outlook

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Social media can be a good help in some ways. Keeping up with friends is fun. It is possible to achieve positive growth by gaining knowledge in reading about current events, or finding new recipes. I even learned how to fix my garbage disposal from a post several years ago. Laughing at new jokes and funny cartoons can lead to some levity in our busy lives. Some people choose to use social media to encourage others and try to bring cheer and a positive outlook on life to those in their social circles.

I read a post the other day that I am sure was written with good intentions. It went something like this – “We should all look at the positive side of life and stop being so negative.” While I may agree with the sentiment behind this statement, I believe when people are going through rough times – such as journeying through grief – staying positive is not a simple task. Here are a few tips to help you achieve a more positive outlook on life in the midst of mourning.

As you work your way through sad days, realize that you are not in a hopeless situation. There are things you can do to bring a positive view into a negative looking world. One of those is to give you permission to cry. Allowing the tears can relieve stress, pain and sorrow. The river of water coursing down your cheeks is similar to the concept of releasing pressure from an over-filled balloon. It is less damaging to you and those nearby when you intentionally let go in a positive, constructive way rather than finally coming to the point where you explode with anger and hurt.

Remind yourself that life will get better. You will not always hurt as intensely as you do today. I cannot promise you that the pain will go away completely. However, I do know from the experience of my last four years that it will lessen and seem more manageable in time.

You are not on this journey alone. First and foremost, God is with you. He wants to be your strength and sufficiency during this very difficult time of life. Allow Him to be that for you. Pray and tell God about your hurts, fears, hopes and dreams. He can handle anything you place upon Him.

As we journey through grief, it is helpful to also seek the support of others walking a similar path. I have found new friends and inspiration through attending a Grief Share group. Finding hope and encouragement reminds me there is still a purpose to my life.

A big part of maintaining a positive outlook on this difficult journey is to just keep working each day to move onward. Do not give up. Even in your most difficult moments, there is always hope for tomorrow. Place one foot in front of the other, my friend. Your positive outlook will move you forward as you do the hard work of grief today.

Until next time –

Karen