When people hear that I am writing a book on “silver linings”, they respond in various ways. My favorite, hands down, is when they say, “Oh, I have some silver linings for you!”
This weekend, I heard one that surprised me—a lot. I confirmed with her that I could share it here, too, since it seemed like a hard circumstance to find a silver lining in.
She shared that her mother recently died. It was not COVID-related. It also did not particularly seem to be a surprise. She noted that during the last five years, she and her mother had vastly improved their relationship as she helped her mother through memory loss and declining health.
“My silver lining is that I learned how to grieve during COVID,” she stated. I didn’t know how to respond. How could someone think that grieving was a positive thing?
“You know, usually we just do the process. The person dies. You set up the funeral, you arrange all the gatherings, you go the service,” she said. “But that’s it. We don’t really deal with the loss. We just go through the motions.
“But with COVID and the whole no-gatherings thing, we couldn’t do all that. I was pretty much on my own.”
She then explained how she contacted a few key friends and relatives and asked them to just be with her on the phone if she felt she needed support. She didn’t want them to tell her what to do, she told them, she just needed them to listen to her.
“I really leaned into the grief,” she said. “It changed with time.” I nodded, struck by her brutal honesty about something so obviously painful. “And I appreciated it all. The process, the support, the love of my mother. I really learned from it.”
Her story strikes me as an ability beyond what I’ve been doing, a way of looking at life with a solid determination to find a silver lining at all times.
Two days later, I’m still mulling over her comments. That, too, is a silver lining all on its own: this topic would not have come up in conversation normally, and I would not have heard this particular lesson.