Like many women my age, I’ve had a lot of time to think about grief and do my own grieving. It’s  occurred to me that the losses we grieve have to do less with the person, per se, but with the gifts a loved one or beloved pet gave us.

It’s the impact that person had in our lives and then the void that remains when they leave us.

condolencesSelf-serving? Or realistic?

Does that sound self-serving? It might sound that way, but I believe that’s how it works. People are significant to us in terms of what they bring to us. And of course, we are significant to them in the same way: in terms of what we bring to them. Sometimes we might not bring the same things, but equilibrium is always achieved in a true relationship. There are gifts on both sides.

I miss my friend, Marilyn, most when something troubles me and I need a loving ear and an incisive comment,. Or unconditional support. Someone who is really, truly glad for me. Yes, she was a beautiful person but the hole in my heart she left behind has more to do with her place in my life.

Simple & pure relationship

There’s no question in my mind that the loss of a beloved pet brings up such deep grief because it is the one absolutely unconditional relationship we can have. A pet loves us without condition. Period. Humans? We can get bogged down in other stuff. But pets? It’s a simple and pure relationship.

I can’t remember who observed that at the beginning it was just Riley and me–we were one another’s significant others in the truest sense and of course, we remained that for his entire life. He was pure love to me. I miss it deeply. I also miss giving him love–when we met our two new furbabies I had a new target for all the love I still have to give and, surprise! My grief began to ameliorate once I could give love to other creatures.


We exist symbiotically, in mutually beneficial relationships.

When I miss my mother it’s not because she was Mother of the Year. Like most moms, she did her best. In some things she was miles ahead of the ideal mom and in others, well, she lagged. And that’s being nice. Nonetheless, she gave me amazing support for just about everything I did (Ok, she was against my disastrous rebound marriage, but she was right on that one). And she gifted me with her amazing and generous soul. When I miss my mother it’s mostly because I miss having that unconditional support. Someone who thought just about everything I did was wonderful and that I was the most talented kid on earth.

We can find that in others who are not our parents. My supportive friend Marilyn (who inspired this work) did fill that void, even though she was only about a decade older. When she left us, I felt her loss keenly–the loss of that give and take we had, each of us contributing to the other’s life in important (but not the same) ways.

The Guided Journal through Grief uses prompts and activities to help guide us through the complicated feelings of loss and grief. You can write, collage, draw, paint or otherwise express yourself in response to the questions it asks. It offers ideas for rituals to honor your loved one.

And finally, when completed it can become a moving memento of your relationship and one that you could even pass on to grandkids or other loved ones who didn’t have a chance to know the person who died.

That’s why it makes a lovely gift, either alone or as part of our large condolence gift. Shipping on condolence gifts is always free in the U.S. and discounted to other countries.

I hope you’ll consider it.


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