The Other Side Of Tragedy

Photo credit: Andressa Voltolini

There’s a Tibetan saying that we should use tragedy as a source of strength. But when we’re bent under the weight of tragedy’s darkness, they just seem like empty words that others might say in the desperate hope that they would make us feel better.

Whether we’re smack in the middle of it, or just distant witnesses, we can’t ignore the collective tragedy happening on our planet right now. Mass media makes sure that the scale and the scope is just too big.

Tragedy is a daily event these days … on every scale. It’s in the stories that news is made of. It’s in the silent stories that we never get to hear.

Terror attacks, mass shootings, bloody conflicts, bombings, massacres, assaults, riots, hurricanes, quakes, storms, avalanches … missing children, shattered relationships, broken dreams, saying our last goodbyes, or never getting the chance to say that last goodbye … somehow we are all cut by tragedy’s sharp blades.

We have all lost, in some way. We have all suffered.

And I ask myself, can that that hurt ever really heal?

I lived in New York in 2002. I moved there mere months after the Trade Centres fell in the 9/11 attacks, and I will never forget living in the aftermath of the tragedy that changed New Yorkers, and the world, forever.

And now I live in a country where we live behind steel bars in our own homes and every single person I know has been a victim of violent crime. I have friends who, in one way or another, have survived the unimaginable.

Tragedy, as much as we would prefer that it remains locked tight in our literature, is unavoidable. Loss. Change. Destruction. Heartache. It’s all been articulated since the days of Aristotle.

And again, I ask myself, can that that hurt ever really heal?

I have learnt that tragedy has no rules. It can be self-made, or imposed. We can be innocent bystanders thrown into the swirl … or those who start the storm. For some the effect is instant. For others, delayed. Sometimes time heals; sometimes time makes the pain, the anger, the helplessness, more real.

I’ve also learnt that tragedy makes us conscious, it forces us to learn. I’ve learnt that with hurt, comes healing. With the lows, come highs. Emptiness becomes an opening of new understanding.

I have seen that in tragedy we can find purpose. We can find community. Appreciation. We transform an old perspective. We’re propelled onto a different course.

I’ve seen how, in everyday life, no matter what the tragedy, no matter how big or small, the human spirit has the remarkable capability to turn tragedy into triumph.

It’s in the immediate and unbreakable union of a city, crushed by disaster. From rubble, craters in the ground, battered wreaths and dedications, dust and tears, sadness and commemoration, to the celebration of lives of lived and lives saved. Of heroes and strength and vigil.

It’s in the people who soar beyond the devastating events and start charities to help others. It’s in the struggling, single mother who gets up again and again, no matter what. In the abandoned child who, despite everything, is still filled with love and hope.

It’s in the recognition of our own inner strength that we never knew we had. In the simple appreciation of things we’d taken for granted before. In the flowering of our stronger, more beautiful, more real selves.

… if we give ourselves permission to move forward.

Check out our meditation for fear and anxiety