Introducing The Little Things: A Path Forward Together

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The Little Things
15 min read

Introducing The Little Things: A Path Forward Together

Introducing The Little Things
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Words by:

Dani Hart

Illustration by:

Jenny Tarbell

Words by:

Dani Hart

Illustrator:

Jenny Tarbell

Contents

Over the upcoming months, the Eterneva team is sharing real stories to celebrate the remarkable lives of loved ones who have passed. These real stories are here to help us connect to one another, spark joy, inspire gratitude, and move us forward together. 

Please join us by sharing your little things on Instagram using the hashtag #tlteterneva. We will feature real stories from community members just like you on our Instagram account.

This past year has been full of uncertainty and change, but there's one thing that remains constant. The little things have a big impact on who we are and how we approach living today.

While navigating lockdowns and a quickly evolving world around us, the little things are what have given us hope and a glimpse of peace throughout each day.

Whether it's witnessing a flower bloom on a walk with mom, a smile shared from a neighbor down the street, or simply drinking a fresh cup of coffee with a friend, there's always a little thing that can make us feel human and connected to those around us. Connection with our past memories and with those around us today is what makes life rich and meaningful.

But let's face it, when we lose a loved one, which many of us have recently, grief takes us through twists and turns, sometimes leaving us feeling empty and alone. It can be difficult to connect with those who are still here and leave us missing our loved ones immensely.

Is there a better path forward?

Here at Eterneva, we’re launching The Little Things initiative because we believe that we can use the little things to celebrate the remarkable lives of those who have passed while also supporting our customers and community members through their unique grief journeys.

How can we use the little things to celebrate life every day?

Eterneva is on a mission to change a culture around death, grief, and remembrance. We believe the little things shared with a loved one are some of the most important and impactful treasures in life. We also believe that reflecting on, embracing, and sharing the little things can help us find solace and connection through our otherwise taboo grief journeys.

To start celebrating the little things, over the next few months we are asking our extraordinary customers and those in our community to share stories of remarkable people and pets, and what real people, just like you, have gained from having a remarkable person or pet in their life.

Our goal is to help celebrate the remarkable legacy of those who have passed and share the perspectives we can all take forward thanks to reflecting on the little things. We want to inspire you to connect with your loved ones and live your life to the fullest.

What are the little things?

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our heart.” – Winnie The Pooh

As we pass through life, we all encounter moments that bond us to one another. While these encounters may seem small in the moment, they're often what we look back at fondly when a loved one passes.

The little things are the little details, the quirks, beloved stories, and cherished (sometimes even annoying) habits of our remarkable loved ones. The details that, despite being seemingly small in the moment, have enormous impact on who we are and how we approach life today.

I'll elaborate with a personal example.

Right before I left to travel overseas, I had one of the hardest goodbyes of my life. My 97 year old grand mom was being put into hospice and I knew it would be my last time seeing her. It was my last chance to say goodbye, goodnight and I love you. She had never been to Europe, but I told her in those last few words that I'd be taking her with me.

I left the nursing home that evening as snow fell like the tears in my eyes. It was silent and peaceful, yet oddly warm and comforting. I can remember the feeling of holding her hand for the last time and tucking her in for the night, just as she did for me as a kid.

The following months were filled with grief, often feeling like I was carrying around 15 extra pounds. I was struggling and a long distance from family and security, alone and sad.

Yet as I traveled, I kept encountering a white bird. It seemed like everywhere I went, there was a perfectly white bird guiding me on my way. It became funny to me and I could hear my grandmother's laugh echo in my ears.

I decided that this white bird was a symbol for what my grandmother — who survived the great depression and WWII — always instilled in me... keep it simple and be grateful.

Now, every time I see a white bird I take the time to remember how life can be so beautiful when things are simple and I think of something I'm grateful for in my life. It often stops me in my tracks and turns my day around. And now when I encounter snowflakes falling, I close my eyes and feel the warmth of my grandmother's hug.

These little things are unique to my relationship with my grandmother and I know that I take a part of her everywhere I go. While my journey through grief was hard, the little things kept me smiling and acted as a reminder that my relationship with my remarkable grandmother will never disappear.

Why do the little things matter?

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

Whatever the little things are and despite being seemingly small in the moment, these little things have an enormous impact on who we are and how we approach life today.

By reflecting on and sharing the little things, we have the opportunity to connect deeper, bring joy into our own life and to the lives of those around us, inspire others, appreciate every day, and grow as a person.

The little things help us connect

“Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact.” – Danny Wallace

While losing someone is terribly hard, it is the one thing in life that we all have in common. We all encounter the death of a loved one at different points in our lives and that's part of what makes us the vulnerable human beings that we are.

Sharing the little things can help bring us closer to those we've lost and help us create and enjoy more meaningful moments with those still with us today.

For example, while you and your dad may have listened to oldies music driving around in the car before he passed, now you may use the same music to teach your own kid about their grandfather by listening to the same music on his birthday.

The little things are what bond us to our loved ones, even if they are no longer here in person to experience it with us. It's an opportunity to remember their uniqueness and share what they've taught us with the world. And by sharing with the world, we give others the opportunity to share their own little things with us in return.

Every shared little thing is one step closer to a more empathetic and understanding world.

The little things bring us joy

“Rejoice in small things and they will continue to grow.” – Slaven Vuji

When we close our eyes and think about the way our grandmother hugged us or think about the silly things our dog used to do when we would get home from work, we can visualize what it was like to be in that moment and let it bring a smile to our face. It's a treasure that we can tap into at any time and never really leaves us.

By slowing down and reflecting on the little things our loved ones did or said, we open up space in our life to be mindful of the little things that are happening around us every day. Of course, looking back to these memories can be painful at first, but they can also create joy knowing that they happened and were shared with those we love. It's all about how we perceive the little things.

What if we used these moments to encourage more joy in our lives in new little ways? Maybe we dedicate a morning coffee or our daily walk to reflecting on the love shared with a remarkable life. Or we smile the next time Firework by Katy Perry comes on the radio, because we think of him singing it to us like he used to when he was alive.

The little things help us be grateful for what we have

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” – Neale Donald Walsch

It's so easy to go through life thinking that we don't have what we want and constantly be working towards what's next. But when we sit and reflect on our life, it's the memories we've made and the lives we've impacted that really matter.

While we can wish we had more time with our loved ones, we have the opportunity to appreciate the little things that we shared and what they can teach us as we navigate life today. Through the pain we can be grateful that we knew a love so deep.

"The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief - But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love." Hillary Stanton Zunin

When a little thing reminds us of our loved ones, we can pay attention to where our minds take us. Instead of getting caught up in missing them, can we use the little things as an opportunity to express gratitude for what we learned from our time with them and remember that they would want to see us happy and rejoicing on the time we had together?

The little things help us move forward and grow

"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present." Jan Gildwell

Everyone moves through grief at their own speed and on their own path. There is no right or wrong way to process the death of a loved one. However one thing is true, grief changes us.

It's up to each of us to use the strong emotions of grief to propel us in the right direction. Sure, we can look back on everything we missed or wish we could have done differently, but that won't change anything. What if we instead use the opportunity to reflect on the little things and what they teach us to progress us forward in life? The little things remain in our memories forever as we continue to grow and celebrate.

For example, we’ve heard from several of our customers that the little thing that’s moved them forward with their grief is saying "I love you" to family and friends whenever there’s an opportunity.

Having lost someone remarkable, our customers understand how unexpected life can be and want to ensure that if that's the last time they ever get to speak to their loved one, that they said goodbye telling them they loved them. Even if they're in a bad mood, they make sure to say it. It's such a small thing, but it's a great example of how the little things have positively impacted their perspective on current and future relationships.

As we move forward in grief, we can ask ourselves questions to help us reflect on what our loved ones have taught us in order to grow.

What have we learned from our loved ones that we still have the opportunity to share with others? How can we turn our grief into a means of being more vulnerable and connect with those still with us? How can we embody the values of those we’ve lost?

Can we be mindful of our emotions and manage our pain so that we give ourselves grace as we navigate challenging times? How can we turn our grief into something that makes the world a better place?

What are your little things?

Over the upcoming months, we'll share stories of the little things that are helping people celebrate the life of their loved ones. We'll share words of wisdom from those who are grieving to help inspire and grow together.

We can't do this without you! While we'll be providing stories from our customers every month, we want to hear your little things in order to really create an engaging dialogue around an otherwise taboo topic like grief and remembrance. You will inspire others here by sharing your story and get inspired by reading others' stories.

Join us by sharing here “that one time they...” or “I remember how they would…” about your remarkable loved ones. We can't wait to hear just how special your loved one is to you and the little things that have made a big impact on your life. #TLTeterneva

Always with the utmost gratitude,

Dani Hart

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