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What a Broken Coffee Mug Taught Me About Dealing With Loss

I am dealing with loss this morning. I was in the bathroom when I heard a big crash. It was obviously glass, and obviously our orange cat Milo, because… well, he’s a bad kitty boy.

“What did he do?!” I yelled out to my daughter. “I don’t know!” she yelled back.

We both got to the kitchen at the same time. There was a broken coffee mug on the floor.

“Oh, no, Bubba! It’s your favorite Hello Kitty mug!”

“Momma, that’s not my Hello Kitty mug,” she said gently.

I looked closer. My mug. My Cartman mug. My favorite mug. Apparently, the girlie used it to get a drink of water and left it on the counter.


My husband bought it for me at a toy and comic book convention not long after we started dating. It’s been with me for over 15 years. I have probably sipped thousands of cups of tea out of that mug in three different houses. It was one of my favorite possessions.

“I’m sorry, Momma!” my daughter quickly said.

The stunned feeling wore off and I burst into tears. My sweet girl hugged me tight and didn’t let go.

I told her I wasn’t mad at her or Milo — that I loved them both very much and they were more important to me than a mug. Then she helped me pick up the glass.

Now, I’m sitting here by myself, still mourning my South Park mug a bit. I got a little cut on my hand from one of the shards. And it has hit me — if I feel this shaken up over a cup, why should anyone be surprised my kiddo still has trouble dealing with loss?

While she means the world to us, we aren’t her original family. She lost her mother, father, five siblings and home at 4 years old. Then she bounced around from home to home for five more years after that, losing the caregivers, foster siblings, friends, school, teachers, classmates, neighborhood, toys, pets, clothing, bed, and routines etc. she’d gotten used to nearly a dozen times before coming to live with us.

Oh, and when she came to us, she even lost the state she was born in and lived in for her first nine years.

Those are losses.

But it’s still OK for me to be sad about my mug because they are my feelings and whatever they are is OK. (This is something I always tell the princess — it’s what you do about the feelings that is sometimes a problem, not the feelings themselves.)

My loss won’t change my life, though. My daughter’s did. Time and time again.

She experienced huge, shattering losses repeatedly for nine years. How could anyone expect her to “just get over it?” I don’t blame her for building walls and trying to push people away. I think any of us would feel compelled to do what we could to protect ourselves if we’d experienced that much grief.

So R.I.P. Cartman mug and thanks for the insight.

Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s daughter.

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 Thinkstock photo via frentusha