What I believe: Making sense of tragedy

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.  –Viktor Frankl

finding meaning in life

This week a friend of mine went to work and never came home.  His car was hit by a joyrider driving over 100 mph and he died of his injuries in the hospital, leaving behind a beautiful family with two young boys and a loving wife.   He was active in our community and left a wide swath of grief as we attempt to make some kind of sense of this tragedy.

Perhaps my friend’s wife, who in the span of 36 hours became a new widow, will experience a great blessing from this horrific event – I certainly hope that this is the case.  One of my clients who lost her healthy husband over a year ago after a short illness struggles to understand how this could have happened.  What about the parents of the children who have died in these school shootings?  How can we find meaning in this?

Some will say “It’s all part of God’s plan.”  I don’t know if that is enough.   I do believe that some things are fated and beyond our control.  I do believe that we have a contract for our life and we do come into this life with an astrological chart that describes our psychological tendencies and a path that we are likely to take.  Our free will helps us to make some choices along the way, but when a car hits you from behind at 100 mph there is no choice involved there.  That is fate.  How to find meaning in that?

I’m sure if I looked at the charts involved I would see some kind of astrological significance.  In my work with clients over the years I have seen that shocking events such as this ultimately result in incredible transformation in one way or another.  The devastating accident that leaves a client with permanent injuries forces them to confront difficult truths and change their life.  The death of a spouse brings reconciliation with adult children.  The sudden death of a fiancé two weeks before a wedding leads to a spiritual exploration of great ultimate satisfaction.  But the astrological significance doesn’t always help us to heal or to find the kind of meaning that would help us to find real peace.

The search for meaning is a critical piece of human psychology.  In astrology it is Jupiter that illustrates how we will search for and find meaning in life.  Even those who believe there is no meaning have established this as their belief system.  But I believe that we are meant to ultimately find meaning in these tragedies.  That there will be a gift in every experience of devastation.  Studies have shown that finding meaning in tragedy helped the bereaved to live more meaningful lives in general.  In a study of parents who had lost a child, “Benefit finding seemed to have special relevance 5 years post loss, as parents discussed such themes as new insights into the meaning of life and reordering priorities, deepening of existential beliefs, valuing the deceased child, the belief that the child’s suffering had ended, becoming more altruistic, and learning of one’s strength in the face of adversity.”

Finding meaning in tragedy ultimately means finding meaning in life.  I believe that life is bigger than we can imagine, and that there is some kind of existence on either side of birth and death. I believe that there are many planes of existence and our physical life takes place in just one of those. I believe that experiences of loss and tragedy break us apart and offer the opportunity to be rebuilt in new and more powerful ways.

Not right away – not while our hearts are breaking.  And there is no timeline for when grief and horror turns into understanding and acceptance and ultimately healing.   I believe, though, that when we ask the right questions we are eventually given the answers and this will help us to find sense in the senseless and regain our place in this world.  In the meantime I will seek the solace of meditation and prayer and ask that my friend and her children, and all beings who are suffering, be surrounded in grace and love, and that the gifts of meaning and understanding will be granted.

By | 2019-02-03T08:40:40+00:00 January 20th, 2019|Fate, Favorite posts, Inspiration, Life|15 Comments


  1. Beth Owls Daughter January 20, 2019 at 9:51 am - Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss, Lynn. Deepest condolences to all who are grieving. Grace and love, indeed.

    • Lynn Hayes January 21, 2019 at 7:48 am - Reply

      Thank you Beth. It’s a great loss to the community.

  2. Tami Schwerin January 20, 2019 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Thank you Lynne.

    • Lynn Hayes January 21, 2019 at 7:49 am - Reply

      ❤️ {{{{Tami}}}}

  3. Susana Pugliese January 20, 2019 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I agree

    • Lynn Hayes January 21, 2019 at 7:50 am - Reply

      Thank you Susana.

  4. Carolyn Paden January 20, 2019 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, Lynn. My heart is with you & Rich during these tender days.

    • Lynn Hayes January 21, 2019 at 7:50 am - Reply

      Thanks Carolyn, I will be glad when we can all get together to process as a community. ❤️

  5. Catherine January 21, 2019 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    I am very sorry for your loss and the loss for your friend’s family. When the kind of events you referenced occur, I often wonder about the fated nature of them, and the choice on the part of the person or people who at least in part cause these tragedies. I wonder what sort of transformation or loss they experience. I wonder what meaning they make of it, especially as a result of their own careless actions that will forever change them too. Something to think about.

    • Lynn Hayes January 23, 2019 at 8:09 am - Reply

      Thank you Catherine. I do believe that there is meaning in every tragedy and something beautiful that comes out of something horrific. I had not thought about the young man that caused this accident and what his process might be. He is 24 and will have to live with this for the rest of his life.

  6. Marti Beddoe January 21, 2019 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Dear Lynn,
    My heart goes out to all involved in this situation. Thank you for your eloquent reflection on karma and how to make meaning of our human suffering. I will share your wisdom with others.
    Let us all continue to remember the Goodness of those who have changed worlds.
    Peace be unto all.

    • Lynn Hayes January 23, 2019 at 8:09 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Marti. Blessings to you. ❤️

  7. Sherry January 23, 2019 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I am so sorry to learn of this. Words cannot express the sadness I feel just reading about it.

    • Lynn Hayes January 26, 2019 at 2:10 am - Reply

      Beautiful things have come out of this tragedy already, and the uniting of a community. There is a light in every darkness.

  8. Amelia February 1, 2019 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Sending the softest and most powerful love

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