Beauty in Tragedy
Grief & Loss

Beauty In Tragedy

There is beauty in tragedy

Beauty in Tragedy
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.
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.

-Sean Ericksen

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

Finding Support

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

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.

Beauty in Tragedy
Beauty in Tragedy

Looking Back

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”

-Oscar Wilde

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


  • W. D. Herstun

    This was deeply personal and I’m glad you shared. I’m also glad that you found the power of gratefulness healing. So many cultures from around the world do. Your husband sounds like a champ. I bet he enjoys being needed. I think a lot of men do. I guess people do generally.
    Tragedy reveals beauty and brings us gratefulness if we can allow it, will it, work toward it, and surround ourselves with the right energy.
    I dig the message and agree.

  • Raheela James

    My brother committed suicide on October 22nd, 1998. For years I told people that my brother was just not around till for some reason I just stopped saying that. I can now say that my brother died. Yet I have not been able to tell people that he committed suicide. This is the first time I’ve written or said it to someone outside my immediate family. My husband was my rock through it all. My brother’s death did that because he had broken up with me before my brother’s death. My husband came back to me because of my brother’s death. There really is beauty in tragedy. Thank you for this post. Raheela

    • The Prepping Wife

      Suicide is one of the hardest things to talk about because there is a stigma attached to it, and judgment. I don’t have much tolerance for the judgment, so I keep the cause of his death to myself most of the time. I definitely understand you doing the same. I appreciate that you felt comfortable enough to tell me about your story here, especially when you haven’t reached out to anyone outside your family. I feel honored, Raheela.

      • Mary Lentz

        Beautiful and deeply personal. Years ago, my husband couldn’t make his sisters wedding because I had just given birth. They lashed out against us for two years! But untimely it only drew the two of us closer to one another.

        2018 was a losing season for me. I got rid of a toxic friend who destroyed my friendships with other people when I removed her from my life. So last year felt like a losing season. I’m excited because it feels like a winning season is just around the corner.

  • Scott J DeNicola

    Suicide is such a difficult thing to understand for those left behind but I’m glad you were able to find solace in your husband and friends. My wife and I have recently eliminated some toxic people and sometimes though it hurts you need to step away. When all is said and done you need to do whats best for you

  • Ashley

    This was such a beautiful and brave post. Thank you for being so open and honest and sharing your own experiences <3 I have recently worked with one of my staff members who was considering suicide and it really shook up my whole perspective on life.

  • Mary

    Isn’t it funny how in retrospect, our worst moments lead to some of our biggest triumphs? Every failure, a lesson. Every loss, a gift. Every unexpected event, a new road to travel.

  • Heather

    Thank you so very much for sharing! My husband and I had a similar experience when we lost his Mom. We were feeling so much grief and were not aloud to just work through it without a tone of drama being thrown our way by people who were supposed to be there for support. Not only for us but for the whole family. We learned a lot through that time though and became closer as well. Love and Light to your and yours!

  • Samantha

    Thank you for sharing. I know what it’s like to remove toxic family from your life and all the mixed feelings that go with it. But you’re right, it opens new doors for you and shows you strength you didn’t know you had (my husband has been super supportive through this situation too).

  • Joanna K.

    What an inspiring story. I like to say that the human soul is amazingly complicated. It is amazing how the deepest pain and sorrow can help us to appreciate life as it manifests itself for us.

  • Tracy C

    I can’t imagine the pain that someone must be going through that he or she thinks the only way to end it is by taking his or her own life. I’m so glad though that you have been able to come through the grief stronger. I think your friend would be happy to know that something positive came about.

    • The Prepping Wife

      I used to text him my crazy accomplishments in the gym at 3am (he was at work, and I’m just a weirdo who doesn’t sleep. Lol) and he would tell me he was proud of me. I still hear that sentiment often in my head when I’ve accomplished something great.

  • Lauren

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry for your loss and that it ended with you saying goodbye to some historically important people in your life. But I’m also so glad you were able to find beauty in tragedy and form two amazing friendships and build a stronger bond with your husband. Thank you for sharing!

  • Debra Roberts

    Beauty in Every Tragedy. I’m going to use that…I like it. Having cut ties 5 years ago with my dysfunctional and toxic family, I shed some tears daily about missing them and whether I made the best decision. I know that my life is much more peaceful without them in it, but the guilt most days is overpowering when I see that my kids can still have healthy relationships with the toxic individuals…I don’t see how and I often feel betrayed (it’s my mother and sister who are the toxic ones). Through yoga and my strong friends and husband, I am able to seek some much needed solace, but the pain is still there and I feel it always will be.

    • The Prepping Wife

      You may benefit from reading the post I wrote about narcissistic people, Debra. I don’t know if that is the case in your family, but it was mine. So many people judged that too. Like there was something wrong with me for cutting them off, acting like I was just heartless and had no soul. I definitely felt the guilt as well, wondering if I really had made good decisions. Time told me I had, because my life drastically improved, and I can’t ignore that. You and I have very similar stories, and I am so glad you had your husband and friends to help you too. I don’t know where I would be without mine. If you ever need any extra support, I’m right here.

  • Sandra Riguzzi

    This was beautiful! I lost my nephew to suicide this past November, and many of my family members can’t say it out loud. I was amazed at the number of people who disappointed me with their reaction or should I say “lack of.” People don’t know what to say or how to handle it and I have tried to be understanding of that, but it is difficult. Your best friend left you a wonderful gift – a legacy of a better life for you. He will always be a part of your life because as your life continues to move forward and flourish, you can look up at him and say thank you, and he will be smiling down at you being so proud. God Bless

  • Natalie

    I am grateful for hardship, but never wish for it. My thought is, if I learn what I need to the first time I won’t have to experience that again. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve been able to make major improvements in my life because I’m looking to progress.

  • Nina Nichols

    You’re absolutely right. Sometimes, it’s all in the mindset. Turning something negative into positive. Not everyone has the same perspective but I always believe that there’s beauty in tragedy. Sometimes it takes time to comprehend what’s truly happening but time heals all wounds and understanding will dawn on you soon.

  • Live Learn Better

    I can’t claim to know how this feels first hand because I have not experienced such. my heart goes out to you for your loss. I am always consoled by my faith that If I have lost anything, God is the reason why I didn’t lose everything.
    May you find peace and comfort always.

  • Luna S

    The pain of losing someone is so deep and so strong sometimes you feel as though you’ll never recover and some people might not. I am sorry for your loss but I am glad everything has become better from that hard point and that things are looking brighter, thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Johnny Quid

    Excellent post, and so true. If we didn’t have the hard times, we’d never really be able to enjoy the really good times. In times of grief, our inner strength is tested and we have to hold tight to it in order to see the good that often comes of it. My condolences are definitely with you. Your friend sounds like the kind of person that you never forget. I recently lost a long time friend to brain cancer last month, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. But you’re right…he’s not really gone. He’s very much a part of me, always will. When I think about it that way, and how he’s no longer suffering and is now experiencing more joy than my human mind can even fathom, I get a true sense of joy. I pray that you feel that same joy every time you think of your friend and how they’re always with you.

  • Mayuri Patel

    I cannot say that I understand how you feel and what you went through as fortunately I’ve not faced a death of relative or friend because of suicide. However, you’re such a strong person and seeking solace from friends and husband in these trying times takes courage. Life is definitely so precious and its tragedies that make us realize that.

  • swagata

    The sign of a positive and strong individual is that they try to find some positivity and hope even in disaster. I also agree with you that every set back teaches us a lesson, every difficult and painful experience makes us a better person! Thanks for sharing such a personal story with your readers to help inspire them!

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