Happiness in Small Things

by Veronica on April 20, 2010

in Cancer, Grief, Headfuck

After Nan died, I moved through my world like I was in a fog. I was shattered and a grey fog seemed preferable to anything else. After all, I had small children and things to do, I didn’t have time to be crippled by grief, no matter that I felt shattered inside.

There is something about watching someone you love die in front of you that can leave you a bit broken you know?

And so that is how things continued. I moved through my days, bundled in a fog of I-refuse-to-feel-anything until I got to the point when I forgot how to feel anything. I internalised all of my grief and hello fog, you’re like a warm woolly blanket. Comforting and a little bit hard to get rid of because I might need you.

Nan died almost 10 months ago and while outside, I am coping, inside I am still shattered.

If I think about it, or her, I fall apart.

So I just don’t.

I don’t look at photos of her, any more than merely letting my eyes slide over them.

And I don’t speak about her, unless it’s a little bitterly, with a dose of realistic philosophical thrown in to stop it hurting quite so badly.

There are still things that make me happy though and at this point, I need all the small doses of happiness I can get.

Watching the world from the other side of a camera lens, that makes me happy. There is something about laying almost flat on my stomach and taking photos of toadstools or flowers that makes everything else easier to deal with. From the other side of a camera lens I feel like I can breathe again.

The simple act of taking photos, and coming inside to see how they turned out, it makes everything easier to deal with somehow.

Focusing on the small things leaves the big things to take care of themselves.

I am also the first person to admit that I can get a little obsessive when things make me feel happier or fulfilled.

A long time ago now, I used to work in a kitchen. The fast paced lifestyle left little time for thinking about other things and food, well, food is a huge passion of mine.

So when I discovered that making my own pasta sauces/jams/chutney and then photographing them gave me a small measure of happiness and fulfilment, I did a lot of it. Currently I’ve run out of jars and I’m itching to buy more strawberries because dammit, at least then you can see the results of all my hard work. I have something to show for working hard at it.

Grief isn’t like that apparently. No matter how hard I work at ignoring it, or even trying to deal with it, I’ve got nothing to show for it. It still hurts just as much when I poke the hole, so I leave off the poking and move back to things that make me happy.

Small things.

Gardening makes me happy. The simple acts of picking my own produce, that’s seeing results from hard work.

We planted our six gum trees on Sunday. When we were done, I wished for another ten trees, another twenty even. Something to show for traipsing all over the yard, digging holes and dragging a hose around. I didn’t want to stop planting, because playing in the dirt, it made me feel something again. And I’ve not been feeling very much since Nan died.

I sat in the middle of the yard yesterday and just sat. With a camera in my hand and more toadstool photos on my memory card, I just sat. And I looked at the sky and I looked at my poultry, free ranging fifty metres away. I thought about how hard missing someone is and how much work grief is, for very little result. I thought about all the little things that make me happy and realised that I need all the happiness I can get.

Because even though the little things make me bounce with excitement, the bigs things are going to be there, waiting to be dealt with. Sitting on my shoulder, just waiting for a stray thought or word to bring me undone.

I am not a bouncy bubbly person. I am realistic and a little bit cynical. I am philosophical and I am rather snarky.

And at the end of the day, I will always be the kind of person who wryly tells her dying grandmother ‘Good thing it’s not leprosy, or you would have just pulled your ears off.’

Because that’s how I cope.

Happiness in small things.

taz April 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

big big hugs hun

i am here if ya need..

Bendy Girl April 20, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Aww, more hugs from me. I’m with you, happiness in the small stuff is the real secret to staying afloat. BG Xx

Rory April 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Can relate to this on a lot of levels; held lots inside until an Uncle (that I’m sometimes ashamed to admit I loved more than my father) died and no amount of my stubbornness was going to stop the flood gates from opening. I got through that and it made me realise I could have done the same for lots of the other grief I’d pushed to one side. Suffice to say I let the grief arrive these days, pay its visit, say farewell and move on.

Tanya April 20, 2010 at 10:50 pm


Small things are wonderful for putting things into perspective.

Offbeatceremony April 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Grief is hard, happiness in small things can get u through

Marylin April 20, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Huge hugs girly, you know i’m always here for a chatter if you need it. xxx

(also, why didnt you tell me about your photoblog?? Biatch! 😉

Lucy April 21, 2010 at 12:07 am

You write very eloquently on grief. I am sorry that you are so familiar with it. But glad you have some methods of finding a little bit of heart peace.

Marie April 21, 2010 at 12:14 am


And I hope you don’t mind, but I did snicker at that leprosy comment. 🙂 I think it’s a gift to be able to be funny even when you’re sad.

Jayne April 21, 2010 at 10:02 am

Happiness in small things, little steps, is easier to heal our wounds than big sweeping moments.

Kristin April 21, 2010 at 10:28 am

Sometimes our grief needs to sit on a shelf for a bit until we are ready to process it, and then we process it in small chunks. That’s perfectly normal and perfectly healthy, I think. We don’t have the luxury, any of us, of stopping our lives to attend to our grief full-time, and if we did it might just quite undo us. You are wise in your soul and you will move through this at your own pace, in your own way, and there really, really is a end to the tunnel. I know, I’ve been through it. xoxo

Sharon April 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm

It’s the small things that make life continue. Grief is not something to be swallowed whole and dealt with. It lingers, waxes and wanes but will forever leave a sorrowing bittersweet gap. The size of that gap depends on how many small joys you can pack into it I think.

Keep gathering the little joys in your life. Nan would enjoy that.

Ali April 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I wish I knew a better way to deal with it but my pushittothebackofyourmindanddon’tthinkaboutit style of grief management is pretty crap too. Hugs for you, lovely.

river April 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Happiness in samll things. I do believe that’s the way most people cope, on a daily basis, with just about anything. Really, it’s all we can do. Without the small happinesses, we’d all fall apart.

Brenda April 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Hey partner, hang in there okay? I need you to cope because we are gonna take over the blogging world, baby. Oh yes we are! Loads of love.XO

C April 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I have to tell you that my eyes started watering when I read the beginning of this post. I remember the posts you wrote about your Nan’s death. I cried when I read those too. I remember when my granddad died. I was a mess for years. I don’t think one ever “gets over” the loss of a loved one. We somehow begin to live again…though part of us often feels like it’s missing. We eventually (somehow) go on with our lives again, but we never forget. Thinking of you always and sending you lots of hugs. xo

Kelly Be A Fun Mum April 22, 2010 at 12:00 am

It’s wonderful you have written about this, about how you feel. I know the pain. I know the not-being-able-to-think of the person you’ve lost. It just hurts too much sometimes. My mother died almost 4 years ago now and in some ways the pain is easier, and in some ways it’s harder — and harder. The longer the time passes the more I realise the extent I’ve lost. I miss her.

Kristy April 22, 2010 at 4:33 am

I’m sorry and sending warm, little, happy thoughts your way. I bet your Nan enjoys some of those moments with you, over your shoulder. At least, that is what I truly believe.

tiff April 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I can so associate with this. All of this.
Many hugs.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: