This picture is of Lizzie, my daughter-in-law’s dog. She’s a cute, 11-year old Shih Tzu that made the big move from Audra’s childhood home in Texas to Astoria, NY this year to be reunited with Audra. Austin, my son, has raved about her since day one, so excited for us to finally meet. Once I spent some time with this cutie, I understood. There is no dog like Lizzie.
Being an older canine, she has a few challenges. She is nearly blind now, and is unable to walk down the flight of stairs at the apartment so she needs to be carried in order to go on her walks. She also snores quite loudly.
Yet, there are so many things Lizzie can do! She can walk up the stairs just fine. Her awesome nose allows her to find her food and treats with little trouble. Even though she snores, it appears that she actually breathes just fine and gets plenty of rest. Last, but certainly not least, a dog like Lizzie gives immeasurable joy.
Whenever we returned to the apartment after being out, whether it was for a short jaunt to the store or a daylong adventure in the city, Lizzie welcomed us and let us know she was quite pleased to see us again. One of her favorite things to do was to lie in your arms, belly up, and let you rub her tummy and stroke under her chin as she made little noises of pleasure. I never failed to smile at how relaxed she was while placing herself in our arms.
Living life with Lizzie, I can see some valuable parallels to walking life with grief. First and foremost, it is possible to succeed and live a good life even with the challenges we face after losing a loved one. The hurdles we encounter do not need to stop us and prevent us from living fully and contributing to the people and the world around us in a positive manner. Even on the hard days, when you want to just lay your head on your pillow and cry, you can have the assurance that the sadness will not last. Go ahead and shed those tears with the knowledge that the wave of sadness will pass and you will move forward in your grief.
Another similarity is that we can trust God to lovingly care for us. Just as Lizzie put herself in an exposed position and trusted us, allow yourself moments in life to be vulnerable and open with God. Rest assured that He indeed has your back. Picture His arms around you, keeping you safe, warm and secure. When the rest of the world may be out of your control and seem chaotic, accept the peace that He wants to offer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
Living with grief is difficult. Yet, it is something each of us will be required to do at some point in time. Knowing that God is trustworthy, loving and able to comfort will speed you along your journey when you encounter grief. Do not be afraid of living like Lizzie. In the midst of the challenges like sorrow and pain that are present with loss, you can find happiness. Take another look at her picture. I hope it gives you just a little smile and a strong reminder to look for joy even in the sad, hard times of life.
Until next time –