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.

Long Line of Love

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Yesterday I was asked to play piano for a funeral. As I sat in the front of the chapel, facing outward, I had the unusual perspective of watching the faces of the family who were saying good-bye to their loved one. Having walked that road four years ago, I felt deep pain and sorrow for them as they tried to be strong. Once we have walked a difficult journey, God allows us empathy to better understand how others may feel in similar situations.

I was intrigued by one of the grown sons who sat beside his mother. As the video slide show of family pictures played, I watched as he would glance at the screen for a moment, then force himself to look away, swallowing hard and fighting for composure. It was not until he later stood up to share his thoughts about his father that I understood. He confessed that he would have to watch the video another time, as he feared he would be unable to “hold it together” and share if he allowed himself to view it then.

In his speech, he mentioned how loving and giving his father had been. He told of a song that conveyed his feelings of gratefulness for the family to which he belonged. Paul Overstreet wrote and sang Long Line of Love that told the story of a young couple committing to each other in marriage. Amid the doubts and stresses of keeping their vows, they knew they could handle whatever came their way because the husband was from a family who loved each another. The number of years his grandparents and parents were married and still loved each other was a testimony to what true love was and gave them the courage to do the same themselves.

After coming home and listening to that song I smiled. I too come from a long line of love. My parents have been married 62 years. I was married 26 years before having to realize life as a widow. However, there is another long line of love that is even greater.

Jesus Christ has shown his love for all mankind by dying a painful and lonely death on a cross two thousand years ago. Since He loves me and gave so much for me, I know that I can handle whatever comes my way because I never have to walk alone. Even though Alan is no longer here by my side, my God is.

Do you know this kind of love? God wants to carry you in love through everything you face.

The special thing about a line is that it is just a point that walks forward. So if you feel you have not been left a heritage of love, you can be the beginning point! Today can be the start of something special, good and lasting.

My desire is to hand down a long line of love to my children and someday my grandchildren. Even though I do not have Alan here to love now, I can love others – family and friends – knowing that what I choose to pass on will make a difference. Here is to your long line of love as well. Be it long or short, may it grow, lengthen and bless you on your journey.

Until next time –

Karen