Let Grief Open Hearts

This article was published in Progressive Farmer as part of their Our Rural Roots column.

The end of 2021 was filled with loss for our family. The two most profound being our 13-year-old neighbor, Kooper, who died in a car accident, our 28-year-old saint of a quarter horse, Lou.

I’ve read articles about how farm kids have hearts that are hardened to death, particularly that of animals since they may be seen as an expendable commodity.

Watching my two children over the past few months, I have not seen hearts harden. I have seen them open. And, in the midst of tragedy, this seems an important gift.

When we lost Lou, there were three generations of tears over that old horse who loved us all so well. Farm families are notoriously tough and not the best with emotion, but there is something about the bond with a horse that hits different. Comments flooded my social media page from people who understood that good horses are part of the family.

These passings have resulted in new prayers and triggered a lot of conversations about Heaven in our house. We’ve seen expanded imaginations and increasing faith. A few days after Lou died, my son said, “At least we know Kooper is there to ride Lou in Heaven.” A few days later, my daughter prayed that God would take good care of Lou and provide his favorite feed. Yesterday, my son asked if I thought there would be mutton bustin in Heaven, because he and Kooper both liked to do that. Again, hearts not hardened, but opened.

While we would never have chosen these losses, I am proud of the way we have walked through them. I am grateful for open hearts and bigger prayers and growing faith.

And yes, I absolutely picture Kooper riding our sweet Lou and a good arena for mutton bustin somewhere in the sky. May it be so.

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