After tragedy, a major shock, or death, we reach out to some and turn away from others. Seeking someone close, getting validation, needing some form of structure is reassuring. At the same we hide from strangers, avoid people we don’t know, and rebuff those we can’t trust. It’s as if we run in two directions and it’s confusing.
Surrounding ourselves with people who care is healthy and avoiding others is understandable. It’s about setting boundaries. We’re shaken, our allusion of control evaporated, the unthinkable has happened. It feels like we are careening carelessly out of control.
It takes a friend, someone we can count on to help us with those boundaries, the get some structure, to build some reassurance. The saying, “Normal people act abnormally in abnormal situations” is true in a crisis. Losing someone close is a crisis – a long-term crisis.
In the early days if we are fortunate we are surrounded by family and friends. After the funeral, the birthdates, the celebration of life, and the holidays, we are often left to fend for ourselves, to figure it out. Looking for purpose and meaning in the midst of this life altering event is a common quest. Existentialists say that we suffer alone but in our suffering, we find commonality and in our suffering, we find meaning.
After the first year and other markers is when we start to get a taste of what life is going to be like. Some of us have kids to invest our efforts, some have parents to take care of, and others find work a way to deal. All of us are left with the question, what now?
Faith is the ultimate elixir. Having faith that their death and your life are not in vein. Having the faith to open up to the possibility that there is something or someone bigger out there. Believing there is a plan and somehow you are part of the plan. But even your faith is not in a vacuum. It takes other people to work out your faith, to make a plan of purpose.
When my son died, I realized one thing; Life is important, everything else is vanity. Nothing else counts, only life. School, grades, money are all secondary to life. So, any plans I made or make, if they are not centered on life, are pointless. For me, everlasting life is what life is all about. Being connected to the people around me reaffirms one thing – life. My son knew life. He got up every day and grabbed it by the horns. I long to do the same.
The point is this: Life counts and surrounding ourselves with the people that count in our life is what counts. Stay focused on life in this world and the next. As you do you will be less concerned about a plan because God’s world will open up to you.
It’s something you can’t force but it’ is something you can close yourself to. To remain open to God and to those who care means taking a chance. We’ve been shaken vulnerable by a horrific loss. It’s only natural we want to become impenetrable. Build the wall, protect the feelings, hide the hurt. But it doesn’t work. The hurt festers inside of us and like the Chinese proverb states, “The anger against our enemy burns against us.”