It was a depressing week in the Braceras household. First the Bruins, then Gabriel Gomez. To say that we are all in a collective funk is an understatement.My hockey- and politics-obsessed family has had just about as much as we can take.

Two contests we could have won. Two contests that, on the merits, we deserved to have won. Both gone down in defeat.

On Monday night, the Bruins outplayed the Blackhawks. No question about it. They were the better team. But they couldn’t close the deal.

And Gomez? Well, he might not have outplayed Ed Markey in the U.S. Senate race. The Democratic machine and the 37-year career politician certainly had a superior ground game to that of the upstart Gomez.

But does anyone doubt that Gomez was the candidate better qualified to fix what’s wrong with Washington? A successful businessman and former Navy SEAL, Gomez has actually done something productive in his life. Ed Markey? Well, he might be great on the Washington, D.C., cocktail party circuit, but an A-plus in political hackery hardly makes a better leader.

Unfortunately, Gomez couldn’t close the deal either.

In 2010, Scott Brown was able to pull off a U.S. Senate victory by energizing the electorate around opposition to Obamacare and by capitalizing on Democratic overconfidence. Brown caught the Dems off-guard. But the Scott-Heard-Round-the-World was not a harbinger of things to come. It was a wake-up call to a sleeping giant. And without a big, unifying issue to motivate an otherwise uninterested electorate, Gomez was no match for the re-energized Democratic machine.

So what are the lessons that disappointed Bruins fans and Republicans can teach their kids from this week’s turn of events?

1. Losing builds character. As any Bruin will tell you, hockey reinforces valuable character traits: grit, resilience, self-reliance, and perseverance. Losing the Stanley Cup only reinforces those traits in fans and players alike. So, apparently, does losing election after election. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

2. Life isn’t fair, get used to it. Kids need to know that, throughout their lives, there will be games they don’t win, awards they don’t receive, teams they don’t make, schools they don’t get admitted to, and jobs they don’t get. Even when they should have. There will be friends who let them down. Boyfriends or girlfriends who break their hearts. Disappointment is part of life. We don’t always get what we deserve. And when that happens, the only thing we can control is how we react. Will we become embittered? Will we give up? Or will we hold our heads high, accept the outcome, and redouble our efforts for the future?

3. Accept responsibility. Even when you think the outcome unfair or you believe the deck was stacked against you, take inventory of yourself and determine where you could have done better. Claude Julien didn’t blame injuries or the ice. He made no excuses. Will the GOP do the same? Only time will tell.

4. The best things in life are worth waiting for. Losing keeps you hungry. And it makes the eventual victory even more delicious. For 39 years Bruins fans waited for the Cup. Here’s hoping Republicans won’t have to wait quite that long.

5. Don’t stop believing. Just because we didn’t win this time is no reason to give up. In politics and sports, as in life, there are always second chances. There’s always next year. “Why do all the good guys keep losing?” my 10-year-old daughter asked last night. “Will our guys ever win?”

“If we keep the faith,” my husband answered. “Only if we keep the faith.”


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