“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” ~Oscar Wilde
Have you ever had one of those moments when something devastating happens in your world and it feels like the rug has been ripped out from under you? I know I certainly did last year.
I thought my life was moving along wonderfully. I had a well-paying job and was slowly growing my dream business on the side. I was happily married and the mother of an adorably cheeky toddler.
I was only weeks away from moving into our new family home, which had taken us years of drama and a scary amount of money to build. Despite living so far away from my family, my life felt full of friendship, love, and joy.
Life was progressing along nicely, and my husband and I were confident that we were on track for reaching the dreams we had envisioned for ourselves and our family. We weren’t living the dream yet, but we thought we could see its promise on the far horizon.
Then we got the devastating news. My father, the man who had been a hero in both of our lives, was suddenly diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor.
He was one day a healthy and fit fifty-seven year old man. Then the next day, he was suddenly having seizures and losing his sight, only to then be told that he had an aggressive cancer with an average prognosis of one year of life with treatment.
This news understandably shook our world, and the ripples were felt long and far by many. We were obviously devastated.
We couldn’t imagine what our lives would look like without him in our corner. And to be honest, I still haven’t allowed myself to fully lean into this, to feel it, or to process it completely. I know this moment will come eventually and it will be messy.
One thing that we have noticed since the moment the rug was ripped out from under us is that so much beauty and wonder can appear during tragic times.
It doesn’t detract from the awfulness. At the end of the day, it is still awful. It still hurts. And it’s still tragic. However, it has also brought about so much goodness.
It caused my husband and me to stop and reflect on our lives. Were we really living the dream? Or were we playing it safe and residing within our comfort zone? Were our decisions and actions really aligned with our values and how we wanted to feel? What was most important to us?
Before we knew it, we changed our lives dramatically. I quit the well-paying job to pursue my dream business full time. We sold the brand new so-called dream home. We moved interstate to be by the beach and near our family again. My Dad’s terminal illness gave us permission to turn our five-year plan into a now plan.
With my dad’s encouragement, I also started writing about my experiences. People connected to what I shared. It helped people. I could hold a light for others in our darkness.
Family, friends, and strangers came out of the woodwork from every direction to offer support and love—going above and beyond what I could have ever expected from them.
I learned so many lessons about myself and others, all this in a short three months. I can only imagine what is still to come.
Throughout this time, I have also heard of others who have experienced tragedy and, despite this, can see so much beauty in the lessons and life events that followed.
A friend of mine still suffering from the hurt of losing her brother years ago could recall the good things that came out of this tragedy, including the incredible people that stepped up in support of her and her family.
Another friend who traveled to Cambodia recently told me about the absolute atrocities the people had experienced but how wonderful and giving they were.
A client of mine spoke of a job she had thoroughly disliked but how much she had gained from it and how it ultimately contributed to her now being able to successfully follow her dream career.
We can often hear stories on the news that demonstrate beauty in tragedy also.
Just recently, when two hostages lost their life in a Sydney cafe, people rallied together to support and protect the Muslim community from revenge attacks with the #illridewithyou hashtag.
Denise and Bruce Morcombe, the parents of Daniel Morcombe, who was abducted and murdered in 2003, have since dedicated their lives to increasing awareness and teaching children how to be safe. There have already been children who have used these skills to protect themselves in dangerous situations.
After learning that she had cancer, Jane McGrath and her husband Glenn founded the McGrath Foundation to raise money to increase awareness of breast cancer and fund more breast care nurses in rural and regional Australia. This foundation has achieved so much since its establishment in 2002.
Now of course these events are still tragic. They still hurt like all hell. And there is still seemingly no reason or purpose behind them. It still seems unfair and unjust how bad things happen to good people.
But I personally take some comfort in the fact that so much goodness can stem from traumatic events like these.
What lessons did your tough moments teach you about life, yourself, or others? Did any good things come from them? Can you take any comfort in the fact that they gifted you or others with something that may not have eventuated otherwise?
Woman in the rain image via Shutterstock