When faced with incomprehensible tragedy, give yourself a break. Take a few deep breaths and don’t drive yourself crazy looking for a reason that might not exist.
Sometimes bad things happen. And sometimes, these things are unspeakably bad. Sometimes we can barely bring ourselves to function in the aftermath of these things. Sometimes we want to believe they didn’t happen. Sometimes it takes us a while to accept that these things actually happened.
And invariably, after we have accepted that these things happened, we look for meaning. Because we are human beings. Because we want to believe. Because we want some form of closure. Because we seek comfort. Because everything must mean something. And most things do.
But some things don’t. Some things are senseless and random. Or, at least, we’re unable to find meaning or make sense of what happened so it seems senseless and random.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t find a reason. No matter how desperately we cling to meaning, it deserts us anyway. No matter how hard we fight, we lose. No matter how many clichés we recite or how many empowering self-help articles we read, we are still empty.
Sometimes there is nothing. And it’s terrifying. Sometimes there is no lesson. And we can no longer continue to ask why. Sometimes there is nothing to learn. And we feel betrayed.
Sometimes it just hurts. Sometimes it breaks you. Sometimes it consumes you. Sometimes it is pointless. Sometimes you are irreparably changed. Sometimes you don’t understand. Sometimes the comforting things you tell yourself are not enough.
When faced with one of these instances, I hope you will give yourself a break. I hope you will take a few deep breaths. I hope that you won’t drive yourself crazy looking for something that might not exist. I hope that you won’t tear yourself to pieces. I hope that you won’t blame yourself. I hope that you won’t tell yourself that you could have done more. I hope that you will let yourself be for a while.
But above all, I hope that you’re able to keep some perspective. Because it is only after we’ve had some time to digest a particularly traumatic event that we start to heal and start to remember who we were before it occurred. But in the moment, that can seem impossible. And in the moment, it might be impossible.
One of the cruelest and most inescapable things about life is that we know bad things will happen in the future. It’s unavoidable. Even though we wish it weren’t true, there will be a next time.
And when that next time manifests and we are faced with a situation where it seems that meaning does not exist, we should be ready to try again. We should be ready to fight for meaning and reason. We should be ready to seek comfort and closure. We should be ready to roll our impossibly heavy boulder of meaning up the steep hill of senselessness even if we’re almost certain that it’s going to roll down before we reach the top.
Even though meaning and reason may have eluded us in the past, we can’t let that stop us from trying to find them in the future. We can’t let that stop us from healing the next time. We can’t let that stop us from becoming whole after the next time. We can’t let that stop us from understanding after the next time.
Because if we don’t try to do those things after the next time, that is truly when meaning does not exist. If we don’t try again, meaning never had a chance to exist in the first place.
Originally appeared at Medium.com. Reprinted with permission.
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