How she could come to that conclusion following my father’s death was puzzling. My mom was only 46 when she was widowed with four children. She raised us and sent us to college during an era when women did not work outside the home, and one-parent households were an anomaly. And yet my mother managed to do it all and kept our family tight.
Years later, while my mother sat with me following the death of my child, she told me I wouldn’t see it for a while, but something good would come of this. She reminded me that though my father’s early death was tragic, we became a close-knit family and that was the positive side of our loss.
It was impossible for me to see that anything good could come out of my dreadful loss; decades later, however, I can clearly understand what my mother meant. My loss changed and shaped my life in profound ways, many of them good.
Of the many things you should never say to the bereaved, “Something good comes out of everything” is at the top of the list. It’s as if we are suggesting to someone devastated with pain, “Look on the bright side.” Nevertheless, it’s something I do believe.
It was our mothers who inspired us to take the lemons life gives us and turn them into lemonade. And when the sun is nowhere to be found, to look for the silver lining in every cloud. My mother’s spirit and attitude influenced my perspective on loss. I do find myself looking for “the good in it, ” and it shapes my response to grief. And when I find some positives, I embrace them, allowing them to ease my pain.
The holiday season brings much joy, but for me, it heralds a season of grief. Despite the memory of loss, I find myself counting my blessings, of which there are many. Right at the top of my list is gratitude, for the mother who guided me out of the dark and gave me the tools to face life’s challenges.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.