How Small Helped Me With Grief

I recently read some shocking news on Facebook: a close family friend of Jonah’s had suffered a serious stroke. This woman is married to one of Jonah’s closest high-school friends. She is young—in her early 40’s. She lives a healthful life—she’s vegetarian, aware of and doing her part to combat toxicity in our environment. She’s the mother of three young children. And she and her husband are two of the sweetest, most loving people I know.

I felt devastated. For the young woman, her husband, their three children, their extended families. From the moment I received the news, I was consumed with sadness. Obsessed with the gravity, the unfairness, the suffering of what they were dealing with. My grief swelled and swelled inside me, taking up more and more space, pushing everything else out of the way.

And then I knew I had to deescalate. Had to reenter my life. All this sadness choking me wasn’t helping this young woman, who was in the hospital, trying to recover whatever she could of her life.

I decided to think small.

An image from ten years ago came to me: Jonah’s wedding at his property in the Anderson Valley, a joyous three-day celebration. I spent part of one morning talking with this young woman and her adorable two-year-old first child. And there they both were in my mind’s eye, precious little boy digging in the dirt, and his beautiful mama, in love with her first born, eyes shining, hair golden in the sunlight.

Warm relief flooded me. There she was again, in her prime, carefree, happy, loving. Each time my grief began engulfing me, I would conjure this image, replacing my grief with joy. Thinking small in this way would help me move forward in my own life. More important, my grief was of no use to anyone. I wanted to do something to help, and this image was the something I could do: remind the universe who this young woman was and would become again.

No small matter.

Saint Etienne Cathédrale, Cahors


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