“Shit Happens” is sometimes the most appropriate and honest response there is. Though I had often used it in an off the cuff manner when a situation had gone wrong the sentiment that followed tended to be “Oh well. Let’s accept this happened and do our best to figure out where to go from here.” That changed when the head of neurosurgery used it to describe the situation my husband and I had landed in. And landed in it we had. What I hadn’t realized then, but do now, is that ‘Shit Happens’ can sometimes last a long time. And this is where “Life is Good’ comes into play.

I’ve often written about how grief has taught me that holding what looks like two conflicting emotions at the same time is not only possible, but may be a more comprehensive way of engaging with what we’re feelings. But, it’s taken me a while to figure out that this extends beyond feeling ‘bittersweet’ and that the same principals that allow me to feel both glad and sad at the same time can also make me aware that Shit Happens and Life is Good.

January, the month in which my brother died and my husband became ill 8 days later. The month last year when my dog became ill and had to be put down, and my mother’s dementia progressed to the point that she too would soon no longer be with us. That month. This year, that month brought three funerals in a week: each of them very different and each of them equally sad. Shit Happened.

Surprisingly, as sad as I was I was also glad to be able to go and witness that these three people had been here, that they had made a difference in my life and to be reminded of how good life can be when we travel with people we respect, like and sometimes love. Their deaths are my loss. The way they lived, my gain. When I think of Trudy I will be reminded that to live in many different worlds is to live and love fully. When I think of George, I’ll remember that “Hello Darlin’ “ is a lovely way to greet someone you like and that “have a seat, would you like a beer?” is code for “Welcome. Come sit and let’s enjoy each other’s company.” And when I think of Dadaji I’ll remember kindness and honesty are never more important that when sorrow and sadness are present and that when we take care of ourselves sometimes we are given the opportunity to live longer than most. My heart hurt to say good-bye to all three of you in one week. Yet, I know that if it hadn’t happened this way I may not have been able to see so clearly that the real lesson when we die is in how we lived. Life is good. Enjoy it fully. Travel with people you love and respect. I’ll do my best to remember. Thank you my friends.