There is beauty in tragedy
You are never more aware of how beautiful and precious you life is than moments after a near death experience. Beauty is a manifestation of appreciation which, in turn, is a product of gratefulness. Gratefulness is born from suffering and suffering from tragedy and chaos.-Sean Ericksen
So I thank you life, for every painful moment of suffering and tragedy you have brought me. In fact, I might date invite the worst, for it would make each breath and waking moment more beautiful. Break my heart again my dearest friend, it would only make me love you more and moreover again.
That poem, written by a very wise man named Sean Ericksen came to me over a year ago, as my entire life as I knew it was being ripped apart. I lost so much, and yet I feel like I gained even more than I had lost. This changed my perspective and how I see my life in general. I’ve come to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason. There is beauty in tragedy.
Losing My Best Friend
Lately I’ve been thinking about my best friend I lost. That loss came in the most horrific way possible. I say it is horrific because suicide can’t be explained away the same way a heart attack or a car wreck can. There’s a stigma around the word suicide, like it is a crime. The people affected by suicide are always left with a million questions.
After my best friend was gone, I was left to go through the typical stages of grief so I could rebuild my life and establish a new normal. That can be tough. Once I started doing that, more things came up. I had family who seemed to take a pretty serious issue with my needing time and space to grieve and process everything that had happened. I came to realize that they were toxic, and honestly had no place in my life. It is probably one of the worst and most difficult things to deal with.
Saying goodbye to those closest to you, who you spent 30 something years trusting and loving. Yet, it felt like they stabbed me in the back repeatedly, and I had to make the healthiest choices for me. Which was to just say goodbye. Difficult choices are painful. Just because they are the healthiest choices, doesn’t make them easy.
Can It Get Any Worse?
It felt like life was trying to screw me over in the single biggest way possible. I kept wondering, does it ever end? Like, I want to grieve for my best friend and yet, here is all this other drama flying at me. I’m not sure how much more that I can handle before I breakdown and just give up. Sadly, all of the extra drama was caused by just two people. The two people who were supposed to help me and support me.
Instead, they were selfish and only thinking of themselves. That can be a hard pill to swallow all by itself. Because I would constantly wonder why. Why they would add to my already huge stress level. Why they couldn’t accept that I had to grieve. They almost had me convinced there was something wrong with me because I needed to grieve. That would be life with a textbook narcissist.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering where the beauty in tragedy is in all of this, because I just spent several paragraphs describing some ugly stuff. Well, I will tell you because I gained quite a bit from this experience. Let me tell you about the beauty in tragedy.
Finding the Beauty in Tragedy
I gained two amazing friends. That fateful night bonded us forever. It deepened our friendships by a million times over. I am basically stuck with these people in my life, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It means that I have two more amazing people to lean on for support. They know exactly what I experienced that night, because they were right beside me.
You can describe horrific events to anyone, and they will know it’s not pretty or would be traumatic. But unless they’ve experienced something similar, they really have no idea what you’ve gone through. Having two people who understood it completely was a huge relief. I wasn’t alone, not remotely alone.
It strengthened my relationship with my husband by a ton. We learned how to function on our own without the toxic family I said goodbye to. Our communication increased and improved. We became an amazing team. Previously, we functioned together but that was kind of the extent of it. We didn’t really discuss important things. Our communication became incredible because we could talk freely. We started making real and big decisions together and actively discussing them.
I had an idea and he would kind of go along with it. That was about the extent of our communication. This change is beyond anything I can describe here. I always wondered what our relationship would look like without people interfering, and I got my wish and the results have been nothing but positive.
I learned my husband understood my feelings far more than I realized. Knowing he saw my pain and what I went through and understood was huge. Because I never really explained what I dealt with for so many years in terms of the toxic family. Figured he had other things going on and didn’t want to burden him. Yet he understood completely.
I also learned I had a pretty amazing support team around me. After that weekend when I started to grieve, I stopped eating. For me, this is a classic sign of grief. My appetite completely disappears. I know this and recognized it, as I’ve dealt with it before.
My gym partner reminded me to simply eat small things. A few almonds, some cottage cheese. Since I was already trying to practice eating smaller amounts, this was the perfect opportunity to train myself to do so. Redirecting that negative into a positive thing. Sometimes it is all about the mindset.
Another friend knew what I was going through and suffers from depression. This person has thought about ending things and leaving this world. Yet, she knows two people she is close to, who have lost people they love to suicide.
She felt this would be a selfish move to cause that kind of pain for her friends and family, and force a couple of us to go through it a second time. So in a very roundabout way, I feel like I’ve helped someone else not die by suicide. Sharing my story wasn’t just helpful to me, it helped someone else change their mind.
Taking Care of Myself
I also learned how to heal and what to do for myself. This journey is different for everyone, but I learned how to do it in a productive way. I needed to make changes. One of the toxic family members I said goodbye to had lived with me and my husband for several years.
They went to live with other family. My home finally became a happy place for me, but I had to alter it to make it feel that way. I had done a remodel in the past of my living and dining space. From there it was time to gut my two bedrooms and redo those. I turned them both into an area I wanted to be in.
Doing that to create a different look and atmosphere was a big improvement. I turned my entire house into my space. A space I didn’t constantly want to escape. It was a ton of work, but it gave me a way to focus my mind. Sanding the walls, putting the joint compound on them, texturing and painting. I did it in the middle of the night when my husband was at work and the house was totally quiet.
I had something to focus on, and I could take the time to process everything that had happened since my best friend’s death. This turned out to be the single most productive thing I could do for myself was to remodel the rest of the house. Learning productive and healthy coping mechanisms is a big step in the healing process for anyone. If yours aren’t as good as they could be, I strongly suggest finding ways to process and get rid of that negative energy.
Exploring My Creativity
I also started really exploring my creative side through crocheting and sewing. I have a beautiful antique Singer sewing machine. It brings me so much joy to use it, and memories. Bought it from a very good friend when his mother died, and he personally drove it up to Oregon from California so I could have it. I smile every time I use it. I started sewing more, making blankets for people and much more.
I’ve tried several new ideas. I made a pin cushion out of baby shoes, some hot pads, and I’m going to start a set of placemats very shortly. I will share the results of some of these projects in some later posts, so keep watching for those. I’ve found I can express myself through these creative means and give something useful to someone I care about. I also sew small pillows for cancer patients and they seem to love them. I’ve found a way to give back and that really brings me a lot of joy.
Finding the Beauty in Tragedy
Losing my best friend was a horrible experience. I constantly hope and pray no one ever has to see the things I did that night. Experiencing the fear of sirens and not knowing what happened and having to wait for news. Then deal with the shock and loss. However, there is beauty in tragedy.
It is up to each and every one of us if we are willing to see it or not. Only you can find the beauty in tragedy. It’s a mindset, really. Finding something positive in something horrible. I still hear my best friend and I think of him daily. He is very much a part of who I am now. He’s not really gone. He gave me a lot in the time we were friends, and I still carry many of those life lessons and advice with me daily. I hear things he’s said before that would apply to a current situation, even today.
Finding My Voice and Myself
Yet, I feel like he gave me just as much in his death. He helped me change my life for the better. To say goodbye to toxic people. Reminding me to stand up for myself and stand on my own. To also stand with my husband and be a team, to trust my husband would be there for me. I would still pay to have my best friend back if I could. Yet, I can’t ignore the gifts he gave me at the end of his life. That is a life well lived.
I’ve wondered many times how I made it almost two years without him. Multiple friends have told me, even without knowing the full story, that I am a very strong woman. My best friend said the same thing when he was alive. When he died, I learned how to be stronger. I really did. I had to find my source of strength again. That is the beauty in tragedy here.
There is Beauty in Tragedy
There really is beauty in tragedy, and in every single one. I’ve learned people will show their true colors in a situation like this. Some will exceed expectations and some will disappoint beyond belief. The results rarely turn out how you expected them to go. Which that’s ok. It is perfectly fine when things don’t go how you planned for them to go. Life has a very funny way of working out perfectly. It doesn’t seem like it at the time. Part of finding the beauty in tragedy is embracing the fact the universe is helping you.
We have to make room in our lives for the blessings we are about to receive. Which I look at my best friend’s death like that. It didn’t go how I’d planned, and it wasn’t a fun experience by any stretch of the imagination. Yet I would be a fool to ignore the positive things that have come from it. I can’t help but appreciate the crazy journey that we call life.
I can also look back on instances years before that prepared me for this. To have the strength to stand strong. I can easily pinpoint turning points in my life, that brought me to that day and made me ready for it. Sometimes I just have to stop and be thankful for those moments that changed my life and the ability to find the beauty in tragedy. A wise person recently told me that the sun is always shining, but sometimes it is covered up by clouds.
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you are a veteran, the VA crisis line is 1-800-273-8255