Good things happen to sad people. You get my play on words – everyone knows the famous book When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner. And we aren’t really sad people, but I think you know what I mean. Good things and good times can and do happen when you are grieving – they are happening right now.
Six months after my husband died we had a graduation to celebrate. I remember standing on my deck that warm June morning and thinking I will make this a happy day. A Graduation under the best of circumstances can be bitter sweet, but the accomplishment needed to be the focus. The graduate deserved a day of celebration. The husband and father of our family was so very absent, but I strapped on his camera and took the photos he would have taken. We soaked up the yes I did it! spirit of the day.
On a rainy Friday a few weeks ago, another graduation took place. As I sat huddled under my umbrella, in a stadium full of damp chilly families and graduates, I was briefly thankful for the rain as I could could cry freely along with it. The triumphant graduation music and the weeping clouds seemed to mirror my heart. So much bellowing pride, so much wrong with this picture.
Sometimes good things happen, and only happen, because of the loss. Our trip to the Caribbean, my new job, friends I have met through grief support, even this blog – all exist because my husband died. They are good things I wish I didn’t have. Its an odd experience to enjoy something that you never wished for, that you would give up in an instant if you could trade for your old life again.
But the Good Times like graduations (and other future mile stones we have yet to reach – adventures, jobs, marriages, babies) are events I have always hoped for. They are the things you Wonder about as your children grow. The alternative is not what I want. The ground feels more solid as we (they) reach these important parts of life. But the missing him is a scratch I can’t itch.
In the sparkle of good times everything shines too bright – his being gone is glaring.
The trick, I am learning, is to mark these Wonderful events with the recognition they deserve. Family and friends and rituals can help you bear witness to the good times. But then I will need time to recover. The swing from the highs to the lows and back again can tire you out. The happiness is real, the joy is deeply true, but the wish to share it with their father isn’t going anywhere.
Only moments after my husband died my sister stepped into the room and I said to her I will never talk to anyone, I will never go anywhere, I will never be happy again. My life had just cracked. I wanted the world to stop. But that’s not what happened. I drove my kids home through a snow storm and then within hours, I asked that same sister to call a few friends – I needed to be with them.
I talk to people all the time. I took on a new job. I have joy in my life. If you are grieving please know this – you will have more good times. You will have good things in your life. And you will make good things happen.