Life is full of losses large and small

March 25, 2014

rose gorge unused1

Even in the midst of great joy, shadows loom around the edges.  We know that loss is inevitable, but we’re too busy living to think about it.  I was reminded of that just this month when our beloved older dog was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and we had to put him to sleep.  He’d been ailing for a while with symptoms of old age, or so we thought, but we were busy making his senior years happy and comfortable. We knew in the abstract his life would end sooner rather than later, but when it came, we were unprepared.

It’s the nature of loss, this feeling of being unprepared. A friend recently lost her job. Despite some warning signals, she was unprepared.  A family member acted out. Despite decades of experience with her bad behavior, I was unprepared.

Here’s the thing: every loss reminds us of its flip side and that flip side is joy.

rose in shadowDarkness comes.  It will always come, just as the sun sets over this beautiful rose.

And yet, nature reminds us that this is the way of our world and that spring always comes again in a never-ending cycle of life.

We miss our sweet, old dog.  Riley has been moping around with a sad sack face for more than a week, but Little He’s death cast a dark shadow over me, too.  I miss him more than I could even have imagined.

In the midst of this darkness, two young men spent their spring break with us, reminding me that life is also full of joy and love.  Life is for the living–and for the enjoyment.

It’s a good reminder.


22 comments on “Life is full of losses large and small
  1. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    I was completely in full knowledge of, but taken aback by, how traumatized I was after putting my cat down.She was a one pound feisty feral rescue, an outdoor/indoor cat from kitten hood-a fighter of raccoons, a killer of birds, a mouse decapitator, a furniture destroyer, a persistent rooftop whiner at 3am to be let in through bathroom window, dead of winter. But as I held her in those last minutes, talked into her ruff , telling her how much I loved her, thanking her for the constant company and the site of her regal silhouette on the split rail fence each dusk, surveying the field, I felt my insides turn to glass and shatter. She was 17, I knew it was time, but I was no where near ready for the void she left. Just a cat, yes, I know. But a loved family member, nonetheless. She has in many ways, prepared me with what is sure to come, with both parents in their late 80’s. Her one last gift to me,was realizing the sting of loss will eventually give way to the softness of memory.

  2. Carol – beautiful words and beautiful photos. It helps to remember that we do come out the other side. After a year of cancer and leaving my writing to get more stable income, I just realized how dark things had gotten for a while. But now new opportunities are opening up, and I’m learning to value the shadow as much as the sunshine. Thank you for a feeling-provoking piece.

    • admin says:

      Donna, you have a different perspective on it–am glad to hear you’re coming into the light now. Blessings to you.

  3. Jackie says:

    Great words to keep in mind — that the flip side of loss is joy. I am going to try to remember that 🙂

  4. Barbara says:

    I am sorry for your loss, Carol. If there is any reality or solace in a virtual hug – I send you one.

  5. Haralee says:

    Beautiful writing brought me to shed tears into my coffee cup.

  6. Karen says:

    Losing a beloved pet is such a terrible wrench for everyone in the family. Even though we know animals live only a fraction of our human lifespan, it seems there’s really no way to prepare for what it feels like when the end comes. Such a beautiful post, Carol.

  7. Carol Graham says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth but you said them better. I swore I would never get another pet because the pain of loss is too great but new dogs bring so much joy and help ease the pain of the loss. In April I am part of the A – Z blogging challenge and my theme is dogs. So, there will be 26 posts. There will be many funny stories but I will also share times of grieving and how we got through it.

  8. Joy/loss, light/dark, the human experience. What you say about being unprepared, no matter how prepared you may think you are, for the inevitable dark that follows the light, loss of great joy, and the greater the joy, the greater the loss when it leaves. April, six years ago now, my partner and I waiting out the culmination of the same devastating diagnosis of our 12-year-old collie mix, our “angel dog.” She hadn’t been acting ill, but had been drinking copious amounts of water. Diabetes, we thought, but a checkup sent us to a specialist who gave us the terminal cancer news on the Ides of March (not just a bad day for ol’ Julius.) The doctor gave her 3 weeks. She gave us six. Six beautiful, unbearably sad weeks. We’ve not been able to get another. The pain of the loss was too great. But the joy she brought has outlived the pain. There can be no shadows without light. The day we had to take her in, May Day, the azalea opened into full, radiant bloom.

  9. Emily says:

    I was just having this conversation the other day how we are so unprepared for loss and we just don’t believe it’s going to happen, even when someone is sick. Thank you for the reminder about life and joy — it’s an important one.

  10. Kathy says:

    It is never easy to experience a loss. It does not make it easier if we know this may be the eventual outcome or if it is sudden. I like the part you remind us that something occurs to remind us of the joy and happiness of life. Thanks so much for sharing

  11. So sorry Carol. The loss of anything that gives us comfort is heartbreaking- especially if it cuddles with you.

  12. So sorry for your loss—I have two pugs I adore and I can’t even think of the day I will have to say goodbye. I have to look at the happy side of joy for now. Beautiful post!

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