Often when I think about losing my son, I don’t focus on the positive changes his death caused. I’m not sure anyone does. I know there was a time in my grief that I could not ever imagine good being born out of such pain. But in reflection, I can see how the loss of little Reece has positively impacted my life.
1. The passive-aggressive way of handling my interactions is done.
Life is too short to tiptoe around worrying about making ripples. I can confront people and say what needs to be said. I don’t strive for harmony. My boundaries and my hard Nos stick and I kick away the guilt the comes from telling someone no. I used to live by Harmony Rule and it was often a source of resentment. No more. Death comes for us all. Say what needs to be said. I’ve had worse things happen to me than a friend rejecting my outreach. I can survive anything if I’ve survived child loss.
2. I am better at being in the moment.
I breathe deeper when I see something beautiful. I’m mastering slowing down to take in the simple things like sunshine through leafy trees, the sound of my oldest boy making bodacious sound effects, my husband spontaneously reeling me in for a kiss. Life is made of moments all strung together. Sit longer in the good ones. Maybe even write down the really memorable ones.
3. Raising my living children is more relaxed.
Without clear and present danger, I let them do daring things. I encourage them to problem solve. I let them face the consequences of their actions. I don’t take their anger towards me personally and worry about harmony. For much of my life, my parents strived for fairness. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that the most unfair thing happened and I suddenly experienced something grey. It wasn’t black or white. It wasn’t because of this or that reason. It just WAS. How cruel it was to learn that so late in life. I want my sons growing up more comfortable in the grey areas of life.
4. My well of compassion is deeper.
I see the hurt in people. I understand there is always more to a story. I offer grace to others more freely. This has made me friendlier, bolder, and more willing to open myself to new people.
5. I rarely hesitate to help someone in grief, especially if that someone is experiencing the same type of loss.
I will go to creeper-level stalking techniques to contact them if I know that person needs resources and help. We loss mamas gotta stick together. This is a sisterhood no one wants to join, but no one can leave either.
6. I actively work outside my comfort zone.
I recently delivered a twenty-minute speech to a roomful of grieving families. I haven’t done much public speaking since high school, but I knew with a good idea and some practice on my feet, I could deliver. The best part was being approached afterward by the mothers. Ones thanked me, saying, “I really needed to hear what you said today.” If I resonate with one person, then I am satisfied. I’m ready for adventure. I’m ready for travel and butterflies in the belly. I’m ready to take a challenging test that can certify me to do new, interesting work. I’m ready to see what I am capable of achieving.
How has your loss added positive changes to your life?
Photo by Arica Carlson.
Arica Carlson is married and mothering three little boys, two on Earth, one in Heaven. When she isn’t writing or working, she can be found outside with her family.