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“when bad things happen to good people” – a helpful book to cope with loss
Facing a loss is never easy. Difficult, sometimes inexplicable things such as losing a pregnancy, child, parent, marriage or a beloved pet are pains that many of us will endure in the course of our lifetime. Having recently gone through my own incredible tragic loss, I can say firsthand that the question of why was the most profound for me. I constantly wondered why did this happen? What did I do wrong? I’m a decent, kind-hearted person, so why is this really bad thing happening in my life? I questioned my faith, my thoughts, life, everything. I wasn’t sure what the universe was trying to tell me, what lessons I was supposed to be learning. These are the unanswerable questions that play on never-ending repeat for most of us when we face something as traumatic as losing someone we love. It’s completely and emotionally draining.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss. Each of us is built differently and so naturally, we have different ways of handling our grief and processing unbearable feelings of despair, shock, confusion and even guilt. We deal in our own way and in our own time. Sometimes, talking to those you trust offers great relief. Sometimes talking to others is hard especially if you feel they can’t truly relate to your loss. Sometimes you are not ready to hear all that advice. You’re not interested in hearing things like “it will be ok in time” or that “it was for the best”.
For me, time along with a good support system, restoration of my faith and meditating helped and is continuing to help; however, I wanted to specifically share a book that really jumpstarted my healing . It’s a book that I believe can help anyone with the questions of why no matter what the loss is. Additionally, I think it can especially offer comfort for women going through a loss of miscarriage or parents with a loss of baby or child. “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kushner came highly recommended to me by my son’s doctor. This book was crucial in helping me to gain perspective of my situation.
Even though the author himself is a rabbi, this is not a preachy read. And you don’t need to be religious to get into it either. I have to say I really liked the Rabbi Kushner’s style because he writes in a way that it’s almost as if you’re sitting in a coffee shop having a conversation with him. This makes it easy to read and digest his message. His message is easy to hear as well since he wrote this book in response to his own loss, the early death of his son. Rabbi Kushner’s son Aaron was diagnosed with a degenerative disease at the age of three, which was causing him to age prematurely. Just a few days after his fourteenth birthday, he died. All along, the rabbi lived with the knowledge that his son would live a short, painful life and die before him.
I don’t want to give too much away…but in a nutshell, I gained two important lessons from the book. One is that a lot of the time bad things happen and for no good reason, period. It’s not because some higher power like God or whatever you believe in – intended to bring hurt and suffering into your life. It’s just completely random. Misfortune happens in life just because and it is not some punishment dealt to us by some super force out there. Rabbi Kushner helps us understand that bad things and good things happen because we are alive. This is the human experience. We don’t have control over most things even though we like to think we do and neither does that higher power that we like to blame when things go wrong.
The other lesson I learned is that the best way to move past the pain is to find a way to redeem it. Rabbi Kushner specifically states, “Pain makes some people bitter and envious. It makes others sensitive and compassionate. It is the result, not the cause, of pain that makes some experiences of pain meaningful and others empty and destructive.” In other words, figure out how that pain can be transformed into something that makes you a better you. To do this, you have to move past the questions of why and figure out what you can do and for the better, now that what’s happened has happened. This is a crucial piece to healing and surviving loss. I think I’m slowly becoming a better me. So far, I feel like I am learning to be even more compassionate of others and their situation and more patient in general. This is consequently helping me to be a better mom to Jai. More than ever, I want to devote more of my free time to volunteering and giving back to the community and especially to less fortunate kids. I’m working on these goals each day.
So if you have experienced an untimely loss of a loved one or been through something severely traumatic…if you’ve felt isolated and like no one understands, or if you know of someone who has, then this book may be for you or your loved one. I am confident you will find comfort and strength from it as I have.
To read more about “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kushner, click here.
Have you read “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”? Did it help or inspire you? Mommies who have miscarried or lost a baby or child, how did you cope? Anyone else care to share how you’ve moved past a major loss in your life? Any books you can recommend for inspiration and strength?
Love your post Shray! Very proud of you 🙂