It has happened to all of us that suddenly the world seems to end. If you want to find meaning in your experience, this article is for you.
It has happened to all of us that — suddenly, without imagining it — we suffer an irreparable loss. It could be a job loss, the diagnosis of a terminal illness, the death of a loved one, the discovery of an infidelity, or a divorce. It is simply discovering that life is sometimes too much like a bad person who likes to hit, and knows how to do it where it hurts the most.
When such a loss occurs, that fact and our entire existence can suddenly lose their meaning. As Eduardo Lizalde said, paraphrasing Shakespeare: «Light does not die alone: it drags everything that illuminates into its disaster. So love. ” Everything that gave stability to our existence disappears, and things and relationships seem to lose their meaning and proportion.
This is when one might seek help from thanatology. Except it is a bit when you look for a doctor, a mechanic, a plumber or a lawyer: there are many who are going to do a good job for you, but there are also so many poorly done charlatans who are going to leave things worse than they were. .
One of the great contributions of Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross (in her book On death and the dying ), is that she helped us understand what grief is and its stages. It is good to understand these concepts, because they help us to find a meaning in that desolation that always leaves a loss:
One does not want to accept the fact and, as ostriches are badly said to do, one tries to hide the fact, refusing to see it.
I invite you to reread: What to do when pain or despair flood your reality
2. Anger, Indifference, or Anger
The moment when, as the saying goes, “You don’t look for who did it to us, but who pays for it.” It is the stage when frustration leaves us with raw pain, and one blames God, life, someone in particular for what we are unjustly suffering.
In this new phase, one tries to find meaning, either to our life, or to life, or to the loss itself. One manages to understand that there are pros and cons; that there are solutions.
4. Emotional Pain
This is the “grieving” stage. I understand that it is risky, because one can very well get stuck in depression. You take a taste of pain, and you can take pleasure in self-pity.
I invite you to reread: Learn to see possibilities, in the midst of adversity
Its name indicates it: one understands and accepts that loss is inevitable, that life goes on. One understands that it was fair or unfair; that it was for better or for worse, but that it happened in the past, and that the past is there, in the past and that, although sometimes the shadow of the events clouds the light of the present, life goes on anyway.
Of course, these stages tend to give our life meaning again. But there are facts that bring us very close to the very center of our existence, and then we really need a lot of help, we need something that supports us or gives us structure to our existence. That is where I think we need religion.
True, when adversity comes and one lives a religious life, when one has been a good father, a good husband and neighbor, one thinks it would be natural for things to turn out well. But the truth is that this life is not a matter of cause – effect. If all those who do good did well, and all the bad received exemplary punishment, would there be those who did not do good?
If I understand life well, I believe that almost always one must pay the price for doing good and, although there is a God, who is our Father, who loves us, who wants the best for us, He knows that you can only grow and develop in the midst of adversity. And if you ask me: “But why me?” “Because right now?” I will tell you that it is almost always because God is taking you to a higher level. It is putting you in situations where you will have to be much braver, or more generous, than you ever thought you could be. Here I think a parable by George MacDonald, quoted by CS Lewis in Mere Christianity is worth quoting :
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first you may understand what he is doing. He’s fixing the drains, the roof leaks, etcetera – you knew that these jobs needed to be done and therefore you are not surprised. But after a while He begins to tear down the walls in a way that hurts abominably and seems to make no sense. What the hell is he up to? The explanation is that God is building a very different house from what you thought — putting a new wing here, a new floor there, erecting towers, laying out gardens. You thought they were going to turn you into a small chalet without great pretensions: but He is building a palace. And he plans to come live in it. “
My words to you are these, finally: God lives. There is a plan. There is a meaning in your existence. There is a purpose in the things that happen to you. Trust Him. Come to Christ in your great losses, and He will make sense of all your pain. In Gethsemane he not only suffered your sins, but your pains, your diseases, your sorrows, so that according to the flesh, He could understand you, and know how to help you. Come to Christ, and He will heal all your wounds and give your life meaning.