After a tragedy, it is difficult to move on. In the case of my family and I, after so many deaths so close together, we were in shock for quite awhile (which is normal) and things were pretty dark for me for several months. And then I had a thought: what good could come out of this bad? So I started looking for something good to come from sadness and pain and I had to look for quite a long time, it seemed.
After several months, I began to notice some interesting things. I had made new friends since all that happened and some of my already existing friendships got stronger. Some people went out of my life and in looking back, it was probably best. (No bad people, just time to move on.) I was doing things I had always been afraid to try and I was growing as a person and a counselor. And I kept looking for what other good could come out of that bad time.
There is a parade for little league every year at the beginning of the season and I was invited to go to the parade. So I went and there was a banner remembering Rick (my husband of 16 years) for his time as a police officer and many years as the D.A.R.E. officer. (I think it stood for Drug Awareness and Resistance Education, but I could be wrong.) Many people came to me and shared stories of how Rick had been there for them if they needed help. Young people who had him for a DARE officer looked me up and told me how much they respected him and learned from him. Something good!
I then had some of Ricky’s friends come to me and share stories of how he helped them. He used his paycheck one time to help some friends pay their rent and then had to ask me for gas money for his car. He was always trying to keep one friend out of trouble because he saw the good in that person. He used his own money to buy food to donate to the food pantry and was willing to do almost anything he could to help others. These stories meant a lot to me and his actions meant a lot to them! Some were telling me about things they were doing to honor Ricky’s memory by donating to a food pantry or helping others when they could. More good stuff!
One day, it hit me like a ton of bricks: there was good coming out of the bad. People were remembering them and trying to honor their memory in various ways. And I started sharing stories about the things I had learned from being their wife and mother and learned from them as people. As long as we keep people in our hearts and our memories, they stay with us always.
Recently, I started a scholarship account that I intend, with help from friends and the community, to grow and turn into a perpetual scholarship in their memory. There is a silver lining to bad storms, but we have to be willing (and able) to look for them and see them. It won’t happen right away and everyone’s grief schedule is individual to them, but when the sadness and anger begin to subside, if we choose to look for something good to come out the bad, it’s there.
I’m grateful that they were both in my life and I’m grateful that I’m here to help others and continue to pass on good things. My focus changed from being sad and angry that they are gone to grateful that I knew them and had them in my life. When we let go of being miserable, we allow the silver lining to appear.