There are only two options when a tragedy strikes; it can strengthen relationships or destroy them. So many couples break up in the aftermath of a tragedy.
The deep pain of sorrow makes day-to-day life challenging. It is like an earthquake that shakes the foundations we are standing on. It feels unstable and unreliable. We scramble to figure out our footing. We will do just about anything to get ourselves back on track.
In a relationship, it is important to mourn tragedy together. This doesn’t mean each participant has to mourn the same way at the same time – unity is not conformity. It means being honest and compassionate with one another through the difficult process of overcoming tragedy. Here are a few things that can help each of us deal with the inevitable tragedies of life.
Vengeance and Justice
The initial instinct we have when tragedy strikes is to eclipse it by inflicting a similar pain somewhere else. We want to punish whoever caused the pain – whether that be a person, God, or even ourselves.
We mistake vengeance for justice, thinking if they get what they deserve, things will be better.
The reality is that even justice won’t negate the pain. It is a smokescreen. In order to overcome tragedy, we have to face the reality of our sorrow head on (this doesn’t negate the value of justice, but we need to ensure justice is in its proper place).
We can’t overcome evil by acting evil. It is important not to let the tragedy dictate your character. It is an extreme circumstance. Your foundation is rocked. But you are still you. The last thing we want to do in the midst of tragedy is make decisions. We don’t trust anything anymore and it can feel as though we are lost.
Pursuing justice is not the same thing as revenge. We ought to pursue justice without letting the need for vengeance overcome us. A huge avenue for accomplishing this is forgiveness, which is a monumental task in the wake of tragedy.
You can’t really fix tragedy. There is no coming back. When we lose someone close to us or something horrific happens, that loss will always be there. The scar will always be a little visible. We have to accept that it is going to be tough.
Yet, this does not mean we have to wallow in the sorrow. Moving on is not a betrayal. It is deciding to do what we need to do to find our footing. When Kylie lost her dad, we talked about it as if our family/community was all holding the world up together and when we lost him, the world got a little heavier.
The world will always be heavier after a tragedy. That doesn’t mean it is unbearable. New people come along. We find strength we didn’t know we had. And, in a strange way, the tragedy can motivate us toward hope for a better tomorrow.
The key to perseverance is not forgetting. It is not moving on and getting over it. It is adjusting courageously to a new system.
Tragedy will always be the most difficult thing for humans to endure. It will always hurt. But it will never negate the decisions each of us have to make for who we are.