If you have ever suffered a significant loss, you will likely have an understanding of the darkness and feelings of hopelessness that people often describe. The disbelief at what has happened and absolute refusal to believe that you will be ok and that life could be good again.
When you are in a dark place, the appearance of even the smallest chink of light can give grounds for optimism or hope. Even if it is tiny, some hope is always better than no hope.
When somebody dies unexpectedly or in tragic circumstances, religious people may question their God and ask why this has been allowed to happen. My understanding is that if they can reconcile that there was a 'good reason' for the loss, this could lead to them being more likely to accept what has happened and believe that it is part of a greater plan that will ultimately have a good ending. But even being religious doesn't always mean that a person can accept that it was part of their God's plan. In fact, it can lead some people to question their faith if they cannot accept that what has happened was for a reason.
However, this is not a post about religious beliefs or higher beings.
I want to propose an idea that could help if you are really struggling with grief after the loss of someone that really mattered to you.
The suggestion is quite simple and involves adding just 3 words to your vocabulary if you are really struggling to make sense of the loss.
"...but at least..."
Many people will have used these words already but not necessarily appreciate the difference it makes in their thought process and ultimate ability to move forwards. Think about these sorts of examples :-
"I miss them every day, but at least they are no longer in pain."
"It was a terrible accident, but at least they were doing what they loved."
"It was a sad day, but at least I got chance to tell them how much I loved them before they were gone."
Imagine how different the sentences would be if there were not the 'but at least' part at the end. There would be no reason for optimism. No suggestion there was any sort of silver lining. No possibility of any positive element to the situation.
I have had occasion to write a couple of eulogies in my time and on each occasion I found myself wanting to speak, not about the sadness of the loss, but more about how lucky we were to have had the good times and the memories.
"It's tragic they are gone, but at least we were lucky enough to have them in our lives for that amount of time."
These three simple words can have far reaching effects. Any sentence that includes them has to contain something that is a form of positive, in which case you can no longer say that EVERYTHING is negative and bad.
It's as if you are admitting "It could have been worse".
In the darkest depths of grief and loss, it is hard to imagine that things can possibly be ok ever again. Everything inside you is screaming that it isn't possible. That it will always feel like this, forever. The first step in escaping those dark places is believing that it is possible. By adding "but at least.." into your vocabulary it's as if you are convincing your brain that there is another way to think. There can be hope. If you'd always thought there was nothing but bad in your life but a couple of words put that into doubt, then your brain has to admit it was wrong. It's not 100% bad. And if it was wrong about that then maybe there could be hope for the future after all.
When you knock over that first domino of doubt, the rest tend to follow.