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The Positive Side of Death

The Positive Side of Death | After the Heartbreak
The Positive Side of Death
Using insect spray on a large spider

I can now empty a can of insect spray onto scary spiders! 😋

Oh wow…you’re probably wondering where on earth I’m going with this topic! What on earth could possibly be positive about having a loved one die! Steady on though and let me explain. 🙂

Of course it’s not positive to lose someone you love, but there’s that old saying ‘for every cloud there is a silver lining’, and I want to focus on searching very hard to find some silver linings in what I know is a VERY dark, stormy cloud.

First off I have to say that this is something one thinks about further down the track. When my husband Norbert died in that glider crash I completely crashed too and even went a little bit insane with grief.

Read: Grief can make you insane…temporarily

The fragile beginnings of positivity…

Whether you think it has a right to or not, time does march on and at some point you begin to notice small slivers of light showing through the heavy clouds of that overwhelming feeling of living in the middle of a nightmare. Your mind begins to accept the reality and you can begin to focus on things other than just survival.

Dark clouds with light behind

It was about that time that I was lying in bed one night, listening to rain on the roof. I was sad because of course I was alone and wishing Norbert were there as there is nothing better than snuggling up to someone you love while listening to the rain.

But then I remembered that he snored like a chainsaw so the only way I could ever sleep was to wear earplugs every night. That worked well BUT….I never got to fall asleep listening to rain on the roof. This was a little bit of a revelation.

I actually smiled to myself at that time as I thought “This is lovely and I’m enjoying it.” I fell asleep fairly easily that night (which was a change) and the next day while having my solitary breakfast, I took a pen and paper and started to list other ‘positives’.

I am placing quotation marks around that word because I wasn’t actually thinking of them as positives…I would have had Norbert back in an instant if it was my choice…chainsaw snoring and all!

Rather, I was trying to find positive aspects within my current sea of negativity and blackness. I was really needing to find a rainbow somewhere.

My list of ‘Positives’…

Here is the list I wrote at the time, although it continues to grow as I change in myself.

  • I can fall asleep listening to rain on the roof
  • I can fill the house with ‘smelly’ candles and scents (Norbert wasn’t a big fan)
  • I can have 16 cushions on my bed if I want to! 😂😂😂bed with cusions
  • I can skip a shower before going to bed if I’m tired…nobody is there to smell me.
  • I can now empty a can of insect spray onto scary spiders. (Norbert always wanted to catch them and release them outside but of course some used to get away and hide…and I’m arachnophobic…aaargh!!)
  • I can put the carving knife in the bottom of the dish water if I want to, and nobody will tell me off and say I will cut myself. (NB: Yes…I have since cut myself, and at the time I looked up and said “Oh, stop laughing Norbert!” 😋

What happened when I made the list?

I found doing this exercise put me into a better mind space, especially as it made me focus on the present rather than incessantly in the past. (If you are supporting someone else though, be sensitive to the right time for the suggestion.)

Our wedding day

I know when I first began to write that list I found it quite difficult as Norbert and I had a very independent relationship. We had met later in life so we had our separate interests while still supporting each other.

Not long after the funeral a Counsellor said to me “Now you can do all those things that a married person can’t really do.” That floored me because there was absolutely nothing that I couldn’t do…Norbert may not have joined me, but he was quite happy for me to do what I liked.

There are other positive aspects which are perhaps even more important than my rather frivolous list above. I’ve learned a LOT.

I’ve learned just how resilient I can be

Me standing with my arms in the air

I’ve always considered myself a fairly adaptable person and most people who know me personally would probably agree with this, however even I have limits.

I remember a while ago when an acquaintance’s husband died suddenly…and I looked at Norbert and tried to imagine him not being here. In actuality I couldn’t. It was too hard to imagine and I decided that I didn’t have to worry as even though he might die before me, we’d be really old.

Now here I am. I’ve gotten through the unimaginable and I’m still here. 😊

I’ve learned that ‘stuff’ is not important

I don’t buy much in the way of material things anymore. After having to deal with all the ‘stuff’ that Norbert left behind, I have been given the gift of really understanding how quickly life can be snuffed out leaving nothing behind but the trappings of a life once lived.

Read: What do you do with the ‘Stuff’?

I now spend my money on making memories and being the kind of person who (hopefully) will be remembered.

Me with my arms out on a green field

I’ve learned that I should follow my dreams

After having spent a lifetime finding good reasons for not doing what I liked to do (plenty of time for that….can’t afford it etc), I am grateful that I have been given a new perspective and I don’t have to justify anything anymore, not even to myself. After all, I’ve gone through s#@%t so I deserve it. 😉

I’ve learned that life is an unbelievable gift

Drinking coffee in my PJs

Everyone knows the quote ‘live each day as if it were your last’. On Norbert’s last day he was learning how to fly…something he’d wanted to be able to do all his life.

Now when I wake each morning I really understand that this day might very well be my last too, so damn it….I’m gonna have fun! I also make a point of smiling at myself in the mirror and saying “Good morning” to myself. Weird? I don’t care as there is nobody here, but it makes me feel good to say good morning to someone, and to acknowledge the beginning of another beautiful day.

I’ve learned to take chances and not take myself too seriously

My whole way of thinking is now different. Sometimes life sucks…big time…and yes, sometimes wonderful people die too young and for no good reason. This doesn’t make me angry though, it makes me feel fearless!

Whatever I’m faced with, I ask myself “Is this as bad as Norbert dying? No? Well then do it!”


Similarly, when faced with really tough times (like a global pandemic), I ask myself the very same thing, and come up with the very same answer…”nothing will ever be that bad ever again…so….you can do this too.” 🙂

Read: Grief, Loss…and a Pandemic

Final thoughts…

I will continue to document my musings and thoughts along this road of grief, but I think it is important to know that talking about death is not just about focusing on the negative. Sure there are some really black times however the light does shine through, eventually becoming brighter and brighter.

Talking about death is also apparently a very positive thing to do.

A new study has shown how contemplating death can result in positive behaviours, decreasing aggressive attitudes and increase peoples’ willingness to unselfishly help others.

Looking on the bright side of death makes you healthier

What are your thoughts and feelings about this? Drop a Comment in the box below and share them. The more we talk about death and the process of grief, the more we take away it’s power.

Marlene is an Australian widow who has written about all the good, bad and ugly stuff that happened after her husband Norbert died tragically. Marlene responds to all comments.

  • Michele says:

    I love reading about your journey. Your insights help me with mine. I am not a widow, but I am dealing with a huge loss. Thank you for your posts!

    • Marlene says:

      Hi Michele, and thanks for coming along with me on this grief journey. I’m glad that my written thoughts can help you with your own feelings of loss. Be well.

  • Ron says:

    Well done with the big hairy spider. Did you have to chase it as you were spraying, and then it still kept running?
    I am of the Norbert variety and would try to let it go outside, alive, but if the spraycan is your preferred option, try keeping a large cheap workshop funnel next to the poison can.Red is good.
    Invert the funnel over the critter, then spray down inside the narrow bit. If the spider is big enough to push the device across the floor, call Sigourney Weaver for advice.
    Once the funnel stops crawling you can slip a piece of stiff cardboard or paper under the whole thing and carry both out to the bin in the morning.
    Once again though, well done with the big hairy spider.
    Cheers, Ron.

    • Marlene says:

      Thanks for your comment Ron. I’m actually getting better and not completely freaking out when I see a spider, but still too scared to try to remove it in case it gets away…..and then I would need to book a hotel for the night. 😀 Love your suggestion but I would still have to get very close to the arachnid to put the funnel over the top. Still, I will give it a try next time. Thanks. 🙂

  • Eunice Paschke says:

    Your journey is inspiring. I grew up in a home where death was not something to be feared but to be shared and discussed. It was as much part of my childhood as marriage and baptism. I don’t think it is death that is fearful but living after the loved one has died. That is something that maybe needs to be discussed and prepared for if that is possible. Your blog is talking about life, not death and how you are living now alone after your lose. You are a strong woman and just remember that you are allowed to feel weak also. Love you Marlene.

    • Marlene says:

      Thanks for your comment Eunice. You are right that grief is something that should be accepted and discussed as it is part of loving and living. We will all grieve some time in our lives and it would be easier if our society was better at supporting those going through the pain.

  • Anna says:

    As a widow myself, I loved this post! There are so many types of grief and I struggle with it on a daily basis. Seems grief is forever rearing it’s ugly head! Some days are better than others, but it’s a long road. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Marlene says:

      Thanks for the comment Anna. Unfortunately the road of grief doesn’t actually end however we find ways to incorporate the occasional waves into our lives. It does get easier. 🙂

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