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We're Gonna Have a Ball!
Mom with a View

We're Gonna Have a Ball!

Funerals can be a powerful force for change.


"It is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of rejoicing."

Every time I attend a funeral, I return home newly inspired. It may seem like a strange thing to say, but beyond the loss, beyond the pain, is a renewed sense of opportunity.

Many years ago a good friend died suddenly of a heart attack. In the days prior to his passing I had been feeling grumpy and put upon. Why did I have to do everything? Couldn't anyone help? Wasn't there someone else who could chair that organization? Make that new mother dinner? Have those Shabbos guests?

Standing at the funeral, conscious of a powerful life cut dramatically short, my attitude changed. How lucky I felt to have the continued strength and opportunities to give. "Bring it on," I said to the Almighty. (And He did.)

Last week I was at another funeral of an older man who had lived a very full life. In the days leading up to this death, I had also been feeling grumpy and put upon. (Sounds like a bad habit, right? In self-defense I must point out that these two experiences were nine years apart!) Things didn't seem to be working out the way I expected and life seemed a little grim, a little joyless. I lifted out of my self-preoccupation to listen to the eulogies.

Repeatedly described as larger than life, this was a man who knew how to take pleasure in every moment -- and how to share that pleasure with those he loved. Approaching his friends before an evening of socializing, he would often say "We're gonna have a ball." And they did.

Whenever I feel myself sinking into familiar depressive habits, I repeat that mantra.

Being a firm believer that attitude is everything, I decided to incorporate that perspective into my life. Whatever we're doing, "we're gonna have a ball!" Whenever I feel myself sinking into familiar depressive habits, I repeat that mantra. Whenever we go out, my husband and I say it to each other. (It even worked for parent-teacher conferences last night!)

It's not about spending our lives partying. It's about finding the joy in every moment. It's about not letting discouragement dominate. It's about taking control of our reactions. And smiling. And laughing.

I didn't really know this man. His gift to me has been his daughter, a student turned close friend. But now he's given me another present -- a focus on the possibilities of life, an openness to the opportunities, an ability to take pleasure.

In his last years, my friend's father's health deteriorated rapidly. His diet became severely restricted. One day recently he was alone with a friend. "What can I do for you?" she asked. "I'd really like a hot dog," he said. Even though that was against doctor's orders, this friend knew that a small pleasure can make a big difference. She got him the hot dog. (And didn't tell his wife until the funeral). I'm not advising disobeying doctor's orders on a regular basis. But once in a while...

We all need to eat that hot dog, to take those small pleasures, to do the things we need to perk up our days. For ourselves and for those we care about.

And before whatever you have to face -- an important meeting at the office, an evening out with your spouse, homework with your children -- I promise you that it is a difference experience if you first rub your hands together and say "We're gonna have a ball." You will.

January 6, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) katula uri, January 18, 2007 4:59 AM

funnerals teach us our destiny of life

It is important people to learn it is a daily life of humanbeings.we need to eat to strenghen our souls as king david deed when he lost his son. it helps to chang our behaviors,motivates one to catch up with any task one feel can do mitsvah before he lives this world. However,we need to sick people before they die.

(5) Anonymous, January 17, 2007 2:54 AM

Dear Ms. Braverman:
My wife also have a favorite expression we use to get us into a better mood. It goes like this: "And this to shall pass." At which point we both smile at each other because we know that The Almighty will clear and clean our souls and tomorrow the world and people within it will all look more beautiful.
This winter my wife and I are experiencing a period of difficulty, financially. I have been retired for more than 13 years (she is 14 years younger than me), but this last November, her doctors told her that she must stop working at her profession. That to continue will kill her. She is a Kidney Transplant Patient and suffers from Lupus Disease. Since receiving her borrowed kidney 8 1/2 years ago she had done just fine. In the last 1 1/2 though, conditions at her work-site has become extremely difficult and her relationship with her boss has become very strained, to say the least.
I insisted that she see her doctors to determine why she was always feeling depressed. After many medical test it was determined that the Lupus, which had been in remission for more than 7 years, had begun to show signs of flaring up. Her kidney doctor told her that the stress she was feeling was partly responsible for Lupus coming back and to keep from bringing it back completely she would have to retire. She has retired on medical disability, but that made her feel depressed. So, here, in a nut shell is where " And this to shall pass" has come into our lives again. It brought that familiar smile to her face! "Tomorrow, everything in our world will look and feel different."
So to you Mrs. Braverman, I say, "And this to shall pass. Tomorrow, everything in your world will look and feel different."

(4) harry A clark, January 11, 2007 2:53 PM

renewed faith

i recently lost my sister in the UK i live in the USA and work in the bahamas i knew i would not be able to get over for the funeral and have been sitting alone with my conscience and coming to terms with my loss when i happened to come across this article and it brought back happy memories because that is what my sister would have said it's going to be a ball that was her outlook on life even as she struggled with cancer her thoughts were always for others

(3) Anonymous, January 8, 2007 10:24 PM

Great article, very very true....but hard to remember on an ongoing basis!!

(2) Beth, January 8, 2007 2:01 PM

It works

I just listened to Rabbi Pliskin on the internet. He was talking about happiness. One of the things that can change your feeling is just changing the words you use. Like if you feel low and want to get a lift, you can raise your fist and yell yes! (like football players in a huddle.) It is enough to change the way you feel. I tried it and it works.

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