Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Worst Thing That Could Happen

I thought it was a tragedy when my wife died when she was in her forties. 
I thought it added up to more than just a personal loss because she was helping to heal many wounded individuals in our community. Then, as relative strangers showed up on my doorstep and helped me recover, I began to realize how many other people were also taking care of others, and doing the work of compassion.

The other day I laughed when an announcer said that history was being made because a baseball player hit three consecutive doubles in the World Series. While that feat may be notable, it doesn’t measure up to what I think is historical, what would meet the criteria used to select historical events for the history books. I once planted 1000 trees. You tell me which event was more important to the world.

We speak of tragedies in the same way, throwing the term around rather loosely. 
We say it's a tragedy that a friend was passed over for promotion, and it was tragic that the outdoor band concert had to be cancelled because of rain. Before Ev’s death, I defined tragedy as a big event like an entire people living under persecution for decades, or a tsunami wiping out an Indonesian village, something in the realm of Greek tragedies where the gods and fates conspired to prevent happiness from reaching good and noble people.

So I'm reluctant to say my wife’s death was a tragedy. And yet, while my wife’s death was not significant to the rest of the world, it was a tragedy to me and to all who knew her, in the full sense of the word because she was that important to us and her death destroyed some of our trust in the world.

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