They say every cloud has a silver lining. Fact is, there are times when it’s hard to see the good, times when even your rose-coloured glasses cloud over and you can’t imagine ever finding the end of the cloud let alone its silver lining. Like when your favourite TV show gets cancelled or someone you love dies.
I try my best to be a positive person so when my mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, I found myself searching for silver.
To my pleasant surprise, I discovered that there are some great things about people dying! I’m sure you will have your own list but here’s mine, just to give you something to look forward to if anyone you know decides to kick it. God forbid, of course, but you know.
If the person who died was hard to buy for while alive, you’re off the hook now. I have spent millions, well, thousands, okay, hundreds of dollars on birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas presents for my mother only to be met with ambivalence at best.
Some people are just impossible to please. We all have them in our lives. I’m not saying you should hope for their deaths in order to get out of the torment of trying to find the perfect gift; I’m just trying to encourage you to think positively, like me.
This Mother’s Day I bought my mother a big bottle of booze and pretended she loved it. Then I pretended she wanted to share it with me. Then I pretended I was my mother and drank her share.
If you have a friend who is always the centre of attention and you’re sick of it, when someone you love dies you can finally do something about it.
For instance, one of my best friends has a liver disease and tends to go on and on about it. Oh, sure, I was worried at first, but now it’s just boring. I mean, what does she want me to do about it? I’ve never even seen her liver and I certainly wouldn’t know how to fix it if I did. I’m a vegetarian for crying out loud.
So now whenever she pipes up about how much her liver throbs or whatever it is she says (frankly, I tuned her out long ago) I just look at her sadly and say, “Did I tell you my mommy died?” Back of the bus, liver disease!
Of course, there will come a day when the death of your loved one and the attention given to you as a result will be displaced by something else, so enjoy it while it lasts. People are fickle, believe you me.
When you are first notified that someone you love has died everything will seem very unreal. It will not feel like your life. You will feel like you are in a movie. In fact, I suggest pretending you are in a movie so you don’t have to deal with all the nasty emotions associated with death.
Someone told me there are five stages of grief. Five! Who has that kind of time?
No, better to just pretend it’s not happening. This is called “denial” and is apparently the first stage of grieving. So if anyone tries to point out that you are not, in fact, in a movie, you should tell them that you are working through the five stages in the correct order and just want to be really sure you’ve got the first one covered before moving on. Then go back to starring in your imaginary movie. Lights! Camera! Delusion!
Things that bug you about a person are no longer a problem once they’re dead. I’ll give you an example: My mother always erroneously called The Bread Garden “The Bread Basket.” Can you stand it? Gardens and baskets are not easy to confuse but she would say it every time.
“Why don’t we go to that nice Bread Basket place?” she’d ask, to which I would respond “Bread Garden! Goddamn it, Mum! Bread Garden!”
Now that she’s gone, I won’t ever have to be irritated by this again. What a relief.
A word of warning here is that you should be careful not to feel bad about screaming at your loved one about silly things like gardens versus baskets after they die.
You should also ward against thinking fondly of the things they used to do as though they really weren’t so bad after all. If you catch yourself smiling slightly and thinking that they were maybe even kind of quaint or funny, knock it off immediately.
Keep in mind that such things drove you bonkers for good reason, and don’t get all sentimental just because you will never get to hear your mother pronounce the Ls in “quesadilla” ever again. Or sing along to the radio out of key. Or sigh in that melodramatic way of hers.
I have now undoubtedly convinced you that every cloud does truly have a silver lining. If I haven’t, it is probably because you are a Negative Ned who just needs to try a little harder to be positive.
Life goes on, Ned. Lighten up a little, will ya? Sometimes it’s all we can do.