Creating Meaning from Loss

A lot of people like to say “everything happens for a reason”. I used to be one of those people. Now, I want to punch those people in the face! I do not believe this at all. I do not believe there is some greater reason for my best friend to have left this life so early, with so many plans and dreams ahead of him… with so much of his beauty to give the world. I do not believe there was a destiny for this happening to him, to me, to his family and friends, to my family and friends. I do not believe there was a reason that he did not get to have a long lifetime as a pilot, husband, father, teacher, adventurer and lover of life. So when people say to me, “Everything happens for a reason” it makes me burn inside.

The phrasing is completely wrong for me. It suggests some predetermined purpose for his death, for any death. And I do not agree with that. I do not agree that he died in order for some incredible change to happen. After this year, and the pain I have endured and watched his family endure, I will never believe that again. The very idea offends me.

But what I do believe is that in the aftermath of this crisis, there is a crucial time in which to make choices for what meaning we will create in relation to this loss and how it will shape our lives moving forward. There is a very unique opening within the darkness, an opening to our soul self, which can happen. It happens if we allow it, if we are open to it, if we let ourselves explore it and surround ourselves with others who are doing the same. It is not the reason for someone leaving us, but it is a gift that they leave with us. We may not even see it, so lost in the pain that we are unable to realize it is there, but in small moments we may come to know it in some way. It is there.

As someone who is left on this earth after he has moved on – left with the deepest pains and fears I have ever known – I see it as my job to create meaning out of it… to allow his soul to continue to shape and guide my life and the life of others. I am not always able to. Sometimes I am deeply lost in the pain of sadness and missing him, as is part of the whole process of death. But I find that much of the time I am able to connect to my soul and to his, and I am able to realize that right now, in this moment, I have a choice to make meaning out of this darkness. For myself, for him, and for others.

So to me, there is no one specific meaning that any loss is meant to have in my life or in anyone’s life. It is up to us to decide what meaning we will create for it – and how we will be open to what we can receive in the deep vulnerable spaces of grief. It is no easy task… something I have entered into kicking and screaming in pain. But I would rather create the most meaning from this that I possibly can, to honor him, and to continue to find a way to nurture my own soul to grow into what it needs to become in the next phase of my life.

6 thoughts on “Creating Meaning from Loss

  1. Sarah, I think that you have heard us in our Friday support group talk about the “stupid things that people say.” When someone says “Everything happens for a reason” as if that should ease our grief, they are being stupid. Maybe it is true that there is a reason for everything, I don’t know. Sometimes the reason is noble as when a soldier is killed in battle defending our freedom. Do you think that a wife of such a soldier hurts any less than you or I? I strongly doubt it. Sometimes the reason is because someone messed, up like the pilot who was flying the helicopter when Drew was killed. I hope that you have forgiven him. It was not intentional. Sometimes the reason is just a seemingly rare act of fate like my wife’s rare form of cancer.
    The saying “Everything happens for a reason” seems to want to convey an idea that everything that happens somehow fits into some grand scheme. That strikes me as a wish to make sense of senseless happenings. My recommendation to you is that you not try so hard to find meaning in Drew’s death. Rather, find meaning in his life as your writings indicate you have been doing. That is where your strength seems to lie and where I pray you will find some hope for the future.

    Wishing you peace,

    • Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a wonderful comment Bill. It meant a lot to me. I’ve been wanting to come out to the group for so long but things just keep coming up on Fridays for me lately. I hope to come sometime in January, will probably need some extra folks to lean on after the new year begins, for sure. I hope you are doing well through the holidays friend.

  2. Thank you Sarah for expressing this so well to help us understand better. And my goodness your writing doesn’t cease to totally amaze me… the wisdom and power behind your words and message is incredible. xo

  3. This has really moved me. You have an amazing way of putting your emotions into words. Even for somebody who hasn’t had the same experience it becomes clear what you’re talking about. A big hug from the other end of the world. X

    • Thank you so much! I am sometimes hesitant to share some of these things because, well, I worry people will not relate to it, or that others who have lost someone recently will look at anything positive in a cynical way. But i am trying very hard to find any meaning and positives I can. Knowing it connects to anyone out there makes all the difference. =)

  4. I had this conversation many times. As I used to think everything happens for a reason untill Marc died. Everything you said is something I thought or said. The way you wrote is was beautiful and I could never of expressed it as perfectly as you did. Thank u for continuing to write… U help so many by doing so.

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