“Bad things come in threes” was often the phrase offered up from my mom when “bad things” happened. This saying served as both a source of comfort and anxiety. If three bad things already happened, then the saying provided me some comfort as it meant that at least for the moment no other bad things would happen. If, however, only two things had taken place, then the anxiety would surface as I waited for another “bad thing” to happen.
The concept of things occurring in waves is very common. Most of us have experienced episodes when we have faced very similar dilemmas during a very short period of time. For example three things in the house needing to be repaired at the same time, three unexpected expenses within a few months or three physical ailments all happening in the same year—these are examples of times when I was getting hit with one similar wave after another.
Over the past few weeks my running community has been rocked by the death of two fellow runners. These deaths were both quick and tragic. My knee jerk response was to think, “Oh my, what’s going to happen next?” Because don’t forget—bad things happen in threes. I am finding that it is more productive to reflect on the message of these losses instead of worrying about whatever possible tragedy may lie ahead. As parents, I think this is especially important; children mirror what we do and say. So how we respond or the messages we give to children can help them feel at ease and reassured.
I certainly (as you have all experienced in your own lives) cannot explain tragedy. It is overwhelming and sad and no words are enough. Sharing our feelings with our children can benefit them. By identifying how we feel children may be better able to name their own feelings. And perhaps simply reminding them that there are times when bad things happen that we cannot control…but that it’s a lot easier to get through the tough times when we do it together.
As I reflect on my recent losses I feel I am getting a clear message which I want to share with anyone who will listen: value the time you have, hold dear those who are important to you and take the time to conquer the hills in your life. My two fellow runners lived vibrantly in the short amount of time they had. May you find the same vibrancy in your own life.