When I am troubled I tend to do a lot of reading in hope of finding an answer that might soothe my troubled heart. After I lost my son, and I mean several months after because I wasn’t capable of comprehending anything for the first few months, I started buying and reading books on grieving and loss.
While some had words of comfort I found one that deeply resonated with me and gave me ideas to help cope — it was When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. I purchased it in September and my son had died the previous November so I had already had ten months to mull over my situation. Kushner’s book gave me two incredibly valuable things.
The Randomness of Life
The first I hesitate to tell people because many find it terribly depressing, when for me it has the opposite effect. I accepted the utter randomness of life. Just because you have something one moment, there is no guarantee you will have it the next.
One of the things that helped me survive losing my only child was that there was nothing left unsaid between us. I didn’t have moments of “If I had only told him this” or “If I had only told him that” because we were open with each other in love, respect, and loyalty even when we were in the midst of heated disagreements.
So once I accepted the randomness of life it prompted me to not leave good things unsaid in more aspects of my life. If someone is nice to me I tell them how much I appreciate it. If I really like someone, I let them know it. That way if for some reason I never get to speak to them again I will have left nothing unsaid that I might later regret.
Celebrate Instead of Grieve
The first of anniversary of Gabe’s death was looming as I read the book and it gave me another huge gift. I knew what I wanted to do on the anniversary day and I knew that Gabe would love the idea. I contacted all the people who had helped me and supported me during the months since his death and told them I was having an open house that night. I would supply wine and appetizers if they would supply their presence.
It was a wonderful evening as my attorney, counselor, and friends met and talked for the first time and obviously liked each other. We never got out of the kitchen as we all stood around the island and sipped our wine and munched on food while visiting. When I closed the door behind the last person who left I glowed with the knowledge of doing the absolute right thing. It had been a celebration of caring and friendship and I knew Gabe had been right there with us.
For anyone who has had an unexpected event flatten them, this book is definitely worth a try.