Searching for Silver Linings

(Topic: life after loss)

Hi Friends,

If you lost your favorite sweater, would you appreciate me saying, “at least it was one that wasn’t flattering”? No, you would likely appreciate it much more if I said, “I’m so sorry, that really sucks. I hope you find it.”

Not that when someone dies, you can just “find” them again (I’ll have to rant sometime about the use of the words loss/lost for death/dead/died…).

When someone in your life dies, it’s surprising how many people think it’s ok to say “at least”, as though finding some supposed benefit would offset the loss and make it all better.

There is no “at least” in grief.

There is something else, though, that is harder to express. There actually are silver linings. Not an “at least”. Saying “he didn’t suffer” is an “at least”, it’s not a silver lining. A silver lining is a good thing that happens or that you can do, that would not have happened if the tragedy hadn’t occurred.

Let me give you some examples.

It is a good thing that I developed my spreadsheet of resources, because it helps other loss families. I would never have thought of doing it if Charlie hadn’t died.

There is an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, that takes pictures of babies who have died. They do wonderful things for loss families by helping them have visual memories of their child. They would not exist if the founders’ baby hadn’t died.

 If you look into it, almost any helping organization or research only exists because someone experienced the tragedy that the organization or research is helping to provide support for or battle to minimize.

All I’m saying is that if you are spending time with a grieving person, saying “at least” and finding trivialities that minimize their loss is not helpful. However, pointing out the good they are doing for others (and maybe noting that they are doing it in memory of someone) might be helpful – it is a silver lining – good coming out of tragedy, which is a powerful force and motivator. Sometimes knowing the darkness helps you know to light a lamp for others coming behind you through the same valley.

With love,



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