The Gift of Grief

Simon was a small white Schnauzer, so sweet. Liam was even smaller, black and white, so cheerful and eager. Their main job in life was to make us laugh.

Simon the Sweet 

Simon sits




     hrufs again 

and again


      I open 

the door 

He ponders 

     goes out


Simon sits



 Liam the Loud

Liam the Loud while peacefully sleeping 

seems no threat, yet when awake, 

take precaution, else you will regret 

you asked him what he thinks. 

He tells you and tells you and tells you and tells you 

shrill, piercing, endless

or so it seems. We all admire 

his wit and insight,

his choice of words.

yip yip yip yip

yip yip yip yip

yip yip


Life seems more precious now.

But the months roll by and life passes – literally. Simon died years ago, and Liam died today. He was our dog companion for eight years and went from well to gone in less than a month – lymphoma. Mariana and I constantly worried and grieved as his strength and weight diminished. He knew he was failing and sought out our company. He asked to picked up when he ran out of strength on our walks.

Dr. Sarah came, gave him cheerful words, welcome snacks, a relaxant, a powerful sedative, and then a drug that stopped his brain and his heart – so calm and peaceful. He died with the taste of chicken schmeer in his mouth.

Now he is gone. I made him a casket of boards made from cedar strips glued together, mementos of Todd, our woodworking neighbor who died years ago. I have always wondered what to do with those boards. Now it pleases me to commemorate both Liam and Todd.

And Simon! We have his ashes in an urn. What do you do with an urn of dog ashes? It sat in some safe place or another so it wouldn’t tip over, but it was not a source of comfort. Now, Liam and Simon, who were friends while Simon lived, are buried together in Todd’s box, under a planter in the garden. Unmarked, but we know where it is. 

I am now feeling a sense of stability and closure and a keen awareness that my own days are numbered, as are those of Mariana and family and friends. Life seems more precious now. This awareness is the gift of grief. Even so, it hurts, and it is easy to forget that it is a gift.

This awareness is the gift of grief.

Appropriate music to listen to, powerful yet consoling:

Famine Remembrance by Patrick Cassidy