My sister died almost six months ago and despite everything I’ve been through in my life, it has profoundly knocked the wind out of me. After many years of suffering from an incurable chronic pain disorder, she took her own life. We are all happy for her that she is no longer suffering, but as is often the case with suicide, death isn’t the end of the story. What has unraveled since has made an already tragic loss messy, complicated and even more troubling for those she left behind.
During the first few months, I clung to any moments of peace that I could, and one of the things that brought me an enormous amount of comfort was doing the little things that normally I took for granted on a good day. Tidying up, household chores, playing Lego with my kids. These don’t seem like much, but when you are grieving or even sick, they are monumental tasks.
One afternoon, my boys dumped all of their Lego blocks on the ground to play, and when I prompted them to clean up before dinner, my oldest said, “But mom, I can’t pick all of these up; there are too many, it will take forever, and I’m really tired.” I looked at him and said’ “Just do it piece by piece, and we will help you. You don’t have to do it alone.”
After those words came out of my mouth, tears filled my eyes, because it was as though I was talking to my own spirit as it looked down upon what seemed like a million pieces of my broken heart laying on the ground. Despite my tendency to isolate when I’m in pain, friends and family sent flowers, calls and notes to show me that I didn’t have to go it alone. And just like with Lego sets, when what you had built breaks apart, you can rebuild something new. It may never be the same as it was before, but that’s okay. The process is always the same: you pick them up and rebuild piece by piece.
No matter what mess you are trying to clean up today, know that you can find peace by picking up one piece at a time.