Is There Ever Any Silver Lining in Grief?

Notes by Andrew Weatherhead  (TCFV President 2016-2019)

On May 25th, 2019, a Topics Around Grief discussion workshop was held at TCFV Centre. It was entitled IS THERE EVER ANY SILVER LINING IN GRIEF? We felt there was a risk in running this workshop in that we felt it might upset our members. One person who participated in the workshop told me she wondered if the advert for it really meant what it said. Was it a typo?   

The workshop explored the following: while we would have our lost loved ones back in an instant, can we eventually, years down the track, identify some silver lining within such heart-breaking grief? Participants appeared to be as curious as much as anything else and they engaged well in the process of workshopping the various ideas that other participants put forward. 

Confidence about the topic seemed to vary to a large degree with the length of time since the loss. Those of us who’d been bereaved for longer, (10y, 14y) came with a much more developed sense of a silver lining than those whose loss was more recent (3y – 5y) and our sense of silver lining seemed related to a more developed sense of what’s meaningful and important to us. Perhaps this was a reflection of the time it takes to adapt to a new way of life with grief as a large part. 

It became evident that “silver lining” had different meanings for different people. This was particularly significant where it was seen as part of being told by others what we “should” be doing about our grief: “You should look for the silver lining”. As participants focussed more on ways in which they’d experienced some positives because of the grief, the exercise became a happier exploration of our lives in a way that participants had generally not explored previously. 

 

The “Silver Linings” collated in the group discussion.  

Please note: as mentioned, “silver lining” had different meanings for different people. Each “silver lining” identified in the session did not represent the feelings/experiences/philosophies of all participants. 

  • Evolving as people through our grief:  
  • More compassionate, charitable and patient towards ourselves and others 
  • More sensitive towards other people’s emotional states 
  • More in touch with our emotions  
  • Discovered a new core of inner strength  
  • More able to tap into those enriching areas of ourselves that allow creativity 
  • Greater “access” to understanding another person’s loss 
  • More able to deal with adversity 
  • We don’t sweat the small staff 
  • Other “silver linings” 
  • An increased admiration and respect for the honest expression of emotion (and we are drawn to that quality in others, too) 
  • Friends and family are increasingly precious 
  • Not scared of dying (when the time comes) 
  • Feel that our right to grieve in whatever way it comes out has been validated 
  • Inspired by my child’s words: “Be happy, live your life” 
  • Sense of relief, e.g. our lost loved one is no longer suffering (the cost of this is that our lives can feel emptier and we can feel traumatised) 
  • Closer/more authentic in our relationships (we work out our true friendships) 
  • Faith religious and non-religious beliefs has increased and has given us a sense of hope 
  • Developed new friendships that wouldn’t have been possible before our bereavement 
  • Feel inspired to educate the wider community about the impact of bereavement 
  • We now have an authentic understanding of people who have lost loved ones (we didn’t have that level of understanding prior to our bereavement) 
  • We now understand effective ways to support both bereaved people and people approaching death 
  • We meet the most wonderful people (people in the “same boat)