Everyone has tragedy in their lives at some point. People we love die and it feels tragic. We lose a job and it feels tragic. We develop an illness and it feels tragic. No matter how large or seemingly small (it’s always large to the person it’s happening to), we all have to deal with some form of tragedy in our lives.
Several years ago, my son (and only child), his father and his paternal grandfather all died within about 4 weeks. I must say, that was the worst 4 weeks of my life, closely followed by the worst year+ of my life. Everything changed, literally in the blink of an eye, and I knew my life would never be the same. No sympathy here, these things happen to lots of people, not just me and my family, but it sure felt like it only happened to us at the time!
As I look back, there was a lot of learning that went on during this time of trouble and I’m glad I am able to share with others. I am even glad that I was open to learning and able to recognize it. One thing I learned was that things happen in times of trouble that we certainly don’t expect. One thing I learned is who is around during these times and how relationships change following difficult times.
Many of the people I was the closest to at that time distanced themselves from me. Many of the friends I had at that time I no longer see much, if at all. Some people, who I knew but were not as close to, have become great friends and provided the most support for me at that time. As I slowly healed from these deep hurts, I started to really look at how things changed, particularly, relationships. What really fascinated me has been the fact that other people have had very similar experiences with relationships when they have dealt with tragedy. I have been asked about these same issues when I have worked with clients who have dealt with tragedies. (It appears that when you have dealt with these issues and are a counselor, people assume you know some secret to getting through such things.)
What I finally came to understand is that the people who are the closest to you are also hurting, for you and for themselves, and some cannot handle it. It’s not about me, it’s about who and where they are during this process. People who aren’t quite as close are more emotionally able to step up and really provide help and support because their feelings aren’t so raw. Over time, many of the people who backed off came back and some even apologized. Some never came back. The point of this is that I am no longer hurt or angry and I have learned to allow people to be who they are and do what they need to do to take care of themselves. I don’t take it personally anymore. It is personal, but it’s personal about them not me, and it’s okay.
People come and go in our lives and we need to allow them to do so and not feel badly about it. We come and go out of people’s lives and we don’t need to feel bad about that either. Not every relationship is meant to last forever, so as long as we are kind and respectful to ourselves and others, it’s okay to let some go and welcome new ones. We are stronger than tragedy. As I’ve shared with many people, it’s never okay with us to lose someone we love, we can still be okay and move forward in our lives and even be happy!