Tragedy, grief, loss, what meaning can I find in this?
Where is God in all this?
Have I lost God along with my son?
How can I make sense of things going forward?
How can I find a new way of making meaning, a new purpose for my life?
Tragedy robs us of things: peace of mind, loved ones, sometimes our physical homes. And moving on from it is painful, messy, and a day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute toil.
Sexual abuse, a flooded city, the suicide of a son. These were all category five tragedies leaving in their wake destruction and loss and a devastated emotional landscape. Healing from these disasters is a life long journey. Rebuilding, committing to going forward, scraping together my life from the debris.
After a disaster the trauma becomes the lens through which we see our lives. After Hurricane Katrina people in New Orleans spoke about life in the context of that storm. There was before the storm and there was after.
When you lose a child the same thing happens. Going forward that loss is the lens through which you experience everything else. That is why there is no such thing as putting it behind you or getting over it, as so many people would have you do.
Grief is messy. That’s the first line of the book I am writing. Grief is also breathless, terrifying, numbing, devastating, debilitating – and normal. We all face grief. We all face the devastation of a destroyed landscape. Whether it is our city or our personal lives. We’ve all faced it. Following the devastation there are always questions.
Why? Why me? Why here? Where is God in all this? Does this mean there is no God? Do I deserve this?
We dig for answers and they are usually not forthcoming. At least not right away. As we rebuild our homes, our lives, our trust, we begin to see not a whole road ahead but a step ahead and then maybe a path. And we begin to trust that, while there wasn’t a point to what happened, there might be a point to what we do now. And that that’s all we can have, all we can hold on to. We have no power over what has happened; we have no power over what will happen. All we can do is take control of our now, and give thanks, and do the best we bloody well can with every minute of every day we are lucky enough to find ourselves alive it.