The Smallest Kindness is the Most Profound

Post by Sara Padilla for the Kind Kindred series.

The Smallest Kindness is the Most Profound

After the leftovers were put away and the dishes washed clean of gravy and pie, we scattered my sister’s ashes into the air and watched them settle among the dry, fall swept leaves in the backyard. The skin on my arms tingled as the brisk autumn breeze left and a cold gust of winter took its place.

No one spoke. We stood wordlessly in a semi-circle dreaming of the voice that would end the sadness in a moment. Months had passed, but it was as if she died again, that day.

Prior to my sister’s death I had limited experience with death. Three of my grandparents had passed due to illness and aging. I witnessed the bereavement of some close friends from a distance. I had no idea how to cope or how to manage in the days that followed unexpected loss. Regrettably, I took some very unhealthy steps toward healing that only helped me pretend to forget.

The kindness I experienced after her death was unique. Some offers “to help” were awkward; others were serious. One friend suggested accompanying me to a bikini wax to be followed by a glass of wine. One person reminded me of the darkness my dad was experiencing and suggested I channel my grief in an effort to support him. A colleague simply shut my office door, offering me space. A man whom I barely knew gave me a three-page handwritten letter offering his condolences. As recently as two weeks ago, a friend tucked miniature sunflowers into a bouquet for my birthday; the bright and happy bloom that appealed to my sister cheers our home.

The smallest kindnesses I received were in many ways the most profound. Today I resolve to carry the kindness forward. I need not know the outcome of a kindness to realize that it may be deeply valued down the road.

Sara Padilla writes the blog Sunshine and Salad and practices parenting, prevention and public health. She can be found on Twitter (@skpadilla) and Facebook (Sara Padilla) as well as exploring the interwebs through blogging and reading. Padilla is a public health and wellness professional with over fifteen years’ experience in portfolio management, health promotion and education programming, social marketing/behavior change and human services delivery in the United States and internationally. She is currently at work on a memoir about her experience with loss, grief and healing.

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