After losing our cat last week, I was reminded of a whole heap of things.
It was my first time to lose a pet up close since childhood. I knew it would be hard. I also knew it was time when the time came, so I had peace in that decision. But, it still was no fun to go through those motions of putting an animal to sleep. Tears streamed down my face at the vet's office and many times in the days leading up to it.
Revisiting grief was an interesting and not wholly unpleasant experience. Of course, I do not like grief. But - being able to experience it reminds me of the circular nature of our human experience. With love comes loss. Grief is borne out of love, and it is worth loving, even knowing that it will not last forever.
The other thing that stood out to me last week was the way that I was enveloped in kindness by my friends and family. Even though I was losing something that was not important to most of them, my people were so very gentle and gracious with me. I was a bit amazed, to be honest. There were tangible things like flowers and cheese dip (these people know me well), and there were so very many intangible things that showed up in texts or other messages with prayers being prayed for us and kind words.
It sounds a bit silly, because I already know I have really great friends and family. But even still, people were so incredibly kind. Really. And it took my breath away to realize how well loved I am and how far kind words really do go.
As a general rule, I've grown in compassion and empathy as the years have passed. Losing my dad (which was obviously far worse than losing my sweet cat) taught me what grief is for the first time in my life. Since then, I hope that I have done a fair job of walking well beside people who are experiencing difficult times. I am much more sensitive than I ever was before to when others are suffering.
That said, last week reminded me of how much kindness matters when you are hurting. Each sweet word was like a bit of salve on my rather raw heart. My grief was lessened by the ways others responded to me.
Nothing in this post is revolutionary, but living though something unpleasant again was a good reminder of what matters in life. I learned all over again how wonderful it is to have dear friends and family (thank you all for your kindness to me!), and how far kindness really stretches. It was an inspiration to me to be sensitive and aware to those around myself and to say something instead of just passing on by.