finding meaning


When something like this happens to your family, I think most people find themselves searching for meaning. One begins to examine one’s faith, and one’s own personal beliefs. And I’ve been searching since this all began.

In the beginning I remember writing something like “I feel thankful at times for this experience, because I’ve undergone the most personal growth under the most trying of circumstances.” I felt assured that things were going to be okay, odds were in our favor. We would power through this and emerge stronger than ever. And then the situation changed and it became infinitely more complicated. I surrendered to the fact that some things were beyond my control, and my faith that everything would work out might not be anything more than wishful thinking.

It’s not that my outlook on Diego or his prognosis have changed, but I’ve become more of a realist. As time has gone on, and I’ve heard the stories of other children battling cancer I’ve realized more and more how little control we have over our lives and those that we love. There is no order in this chaos. Life is incredibly complex. We can only give everything we’ve got for a favorable outcome, nothing more.

I used to be the kind of person who found meaning in events, and had faith that everything happened for a reason. Perhaps that fate had written our stories for us. I’m not so sure any more. I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual and rooted in the Christian faith. I’ve always had a tremendous respect for the world’s great religions and their teachings, and I’ve found that there so much wisdom which they each have to offer. So perhaps my own belief system is more of a collage of different ideologies. How do different cultures and religions deal with tragedy? How is rationalized? I’m not sure if I’ve found the answers which speak to me there.

So I’ve been looking for other guidance. Hearing stories of tragedies overcome hold special meaning for me now. I listen to hear, how do other people cope? And over and over again I see people enduring tremendous hardships to emerge telling us, “I learned so much from that experience I would not take it back.” or, “I was meant to find my purpose through this”. Perhaps this belief system works for the survivors, but when you come to a child suffering or dying it’s difficult to rationalize. Simply put, there is no reason or lesson in a child’s death or suffering. A child’s life cut short has no higher meaning: A lifetime of potential, dreams, triumphs and experiences are lost. No, there is no higher meaning in such a loss, certainly not for the child. As parents we can stand on the sidelines and find our own wisdom in overcoming such hardships, but what it gets down to is that life is incredibly and gut wrenchingly unfair. And I keep thinking that if Diego’s life is cut short, how much the world will miss his potential.

So over the period of these past few months, I’ve rewritten my own belief system. I’ve given less weight to fate and more weight to the power of the human spirit. Incredible creatures are we, to experience obstacles, pain and loss and then to challenge ourselves to take control and find meaning in tragedy. We each form our own belief systems and coping mechanisms to deal with adversity. We find meaning in the meaningless and make sense of the senseless. We endure, we question, we learn, and we start over again.


One thought on “finding meaning

  1. alejna

    This was so powerful, Maja, and so beautifully written. I’m really glad that you’ve put your thoughts together like this, and shared them here.


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