Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Is There Life After Tragedy?

There is an amazing article by Sherri Mandell posted here, entitled "The Jeep". Sherri's 13 year old son Koby was killed in a horrible terror attack six years ago, and she has written movingly about grief, mourning and the meaning of life.

Sherri's insights resonate for me. My father died in a car accident at age 42. The greatest challenge one has after tragedy is to recover a life that is honest, meaningful and happy.

As the title of this website proclaims, this space is dedicated to the Happiness Warrior. Sherri's remarkable piece is a classic example of the Happiness Warrior philosophy. It tells the reality of pain, which can never be hid behind a wall of denial:

......I realize that a jeep ride is a metaphor for what it feels like to have a family member killed by terrorists. It is like being continuously jolted when before you used to have a smooth ride. Nothing can be taken for granted. You can't just sit in the car of life and drive through with the air conditioner on, oblivious to the rush of air and the friction and heat of the tires as they speed down the highway.

At the same time, Sherri refuses to retreat into cynicism. She concludes her article by saying:

At the end of the jeep trip we pull over and some of the boys get out to say the special prayer for the month of Nissan, said upon seeing the first blossoms of the fruit trees. After the deep freeze of winter, when it seems that all life and growth is dormant and that everything has died, we say a prayer at seeing the first signs of spring:

"Blessed are you God, King of the universe, for nothing is lacking in the world that you created -- good creatures and good trees, in which people can take pleasure."

As the trees need to absorb the water and nutrients from the ground in order to grow, we too have the possibility of absorbing our pain so that it will one day blossom into something we haven't yet imagined. What seems so dormant -- our love, our hope, our capacity for living -- can one day be renewed.

Sherri lives a life of honesty and courage.

That is the only way to live one's life after tragedy.

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