There are different types of life, loss

foxtail at sunset

There are some people who hold a place in our life, so deep and so long-standing, it doesn’t quite seem possible that one day their story will end. Others, so tragically given a brief, shining journey, leave us all to grieve the stories that will never be. Some live so large and so long that the stories seem endless, sweet, touching and so worthy of sharing. 

The juxtaposition of life and loss hit me squarely in these past few weeks. 


Since May, I have witnessed the fight for life of a beautiful little 2-year-old, the granddaughter of my dear and loyal friend. After a sunny springtime morning turned tragic with Everly’s fall into the family swimming pool, everything changed for a wonderful, happy family.

Her curly blonde hair tied up in a bow in nearly every treasured picture, Everly melted hearts with her big smile and joyful presence. After fighting hard for four months, her parents taking her to specialists in strategically planned, difficult journeys, Everly’s earthly battle ended in her home, in her mother’s arms. 

I attended the sad goodbye of angelic Everly, a beloved and beautiful toddler just six weeks younger than my own granddaughter. Days turned into weeks, then months, filled with both hope and anguish for Everly’s young parents, Everly’s 14-year-old sister and extended family. 

This prolonged battle for Everly brought support from several counties, generosity of kindness overflowing. We held on to every positive report with renewed hope. I was outside under a vibrant October blue sky when I received the phone call from Everly’s adoring grandmother, telling me her hard battle was over. Our tears flowed, words impossible. 

A loss like this brings crushing pain unimaginable, with her family left to contemplate the journeys never walked by their lovely, happy-hearted “Evie Bug.” 

Saying farewell

On the opposite end of the spectrum, just a few days apart from this, we said farewell to a spry and happy soul who was “Grandma Lil” to many in the community, including my own children. Lillian Raubenolt raised four sons on the family farm, all closely lining up in age to my parents’ four daughters. 

“Could we match at least a couple of them up?” I remember Lil saying to my mother, with her sparkle of orneriness ever-present. Lil lived her life with the door to her home and her heart wide open, and she was so loved. 

Each of Lil’s sons spoke after a treasured nephew opened the service, all doing a remarkable job of capturing 90 years of a gleeful, lively life filled with many chapters. Grandchildren shared lovely stories; of course there were tears, but so much hearty laughter in celebrating a unique, joyful, long life. 

Range of emotion

I left one service feeling so deeply, helplessly heartbroken. I left the other with the most uplifting feeling, proud of Lil’s sons for accomplishing such a perfect tribute. Words fall far too short in capturing the depth and range of emotion experienced just a few days apart. 

We are given no say in what comes our way in this life. Sometimes the only thing we can do is show up, holding the weight of the broken pieces for one another for a time.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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