One of America’s favorite mothers died this week. The lovely and talented Florence Henderson, mother to The Brady Bunch, always seemed to be patient, kind and tolerant with a lively, often fractious brood of kids. She was the mom many of us wished could be ours. After all, our own mothers were never that perfect. They had to write their own scripts and frankly, some of them were not very good writers.
But I digress.
The fact is, we admired that perky, perpetually cheerful mother. But Carol Brady was the product of good writers. Florence Henderson, the woman, on the other hand, said something that affected me greatly. In yesterday’s newspaper, they listed ten wise things she had said, some as Carol Brady, others from her own heart. Number 4 started me thinking about the path you must take to find peace after losing your soul mate.
After the death of her second husband, John Kappas, in 2012, she said, “It takes a lot of courage to be happy, but I’ve got courage, so I think I will be happy again.”
“I think I will be happy again.” What a hopeful thing to say in a time of deep grieving.
And what a gift to anyone going through the depths of loss.
It takes courage to simply put one foot in front of the other after you have lost your soul mate. But somehow you do it.
It takes courage to get up in the morning, day after day.
It takes courage to reclaim your life when all you want is to just stop and go to your love, wherever they are now.
And it does take courage to find peace and happiness in the face of devastating loss. But you can do that too.
At first, you cannot believe you will ever be happy again. But you will. It will sneak up on you. One day, you will read something funny or see something silly or flash to a happy memory, one not focused on death. And for just one brief moment, you will find yourself smiling or laughing. It will be the first time, not the last.
That laughter is not a betrayal of the one you love. Rather, it is an affirmation of the depth of the joy you experienced together. And having the courage to find your way to peace and be happy again is an even greater affirmation of the love you had and the life you shared. Cherish that and know that you DO have courage. You would not have survived through your loss without it.
Excerpted from my soon to be released book, Breathing Again...thoughts on life after loss.