Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Life Isn't Fair

Life isn’t fair. That’s just how it is. It doesn’t always make sense. In fact, it often doesn’t make sense. Don’t bother asking, “Why?” There simply isn’t always an answer. Actually, there usually isn’t a satisfactory answer.
If life were fair, I wouldn’t have lost my dad when I was seven and my brother was four. I did. (Today would have been his 100th birthday.)

If life were fair, tragedies would only happen to those who deserved them. They don’t.

If life were fair, the best people would live long lives, and those who abused drugs, alcohol, and other substances would die young. They often don’t.

Mean drunks live long lives.

Innocent children die. Parents leave their families far too young.

If life were fair, each family would experience problems equally. They don’t.

Our friends have had more than their share of difficulties. Tom badly injured his knee years ago while working as a firefighter. The first surgery to repair it was botched. In the intervening years, he’s had numerous additional surgeries. None solved the problem—or relieved the pain. Last year, he had a knee replacement. A week after the surgery, his tibia shattered. As a result, he had his leg amputated below the knee. A week later, he had a heart attack. He recovered and is now learning to function with a ‘bionic’ prosthesis.

His wife, Robin, had a stroke several years after Tom’s injury. It was followed by a heart attack. Either one could have killed her, but they left her with some paralysis. While in the hospital, she contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion. She has survived far longer than the original prognosis.

We sometimes compare their situation to that of the biblical family of Job.

Another family has also experienced far more than their share of tragedy. The mother died at age thirty-seven leaving three small children ages four, six, and twelve. I was her same age and identified with the younger kids. The father died about ten years later.

This past week, we learned that one of the youngest son’s newborn twin sons died suddenly. Not fair!

How do people survive these kinds of shattering events?

The answer for me is: faith. I truly don’t see how anyone can get through life’s toughest times without believing in something larger, more powerful than we are and that there is a greater plan. The comfort of believing we will see our loved ones again keeps me going and at peace.

Each of us copes in our own way, but I also believe having a group of friends who will stand with us in compassion and support can keep us going when we couldn’t do it on our own.

Life isn’t fair. Nothing is guaranteed. Each of these devastating events—whether our own or others’—is a reminder of how fragile life is.

For me, the only appropriate response is gratitude for the good things in life, for those around us, and for whatever time we are given.

How do you cope with loss—your own and others'?



17 comments:

  1. Definitely faith. I believe I will see my family members in heaven when I get there. If I didn't believe this, it would've been much harder to accept the death of my son from cancer at the age of 42.

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    1. I know what you mean. Faith and the support of friends have seen me through many hard times.

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  2. Poignant, but, oh, so true. Sometimes you wonder how people do cope with the tragedies that befall them. And I think you're right--faith and the support of family and friends.

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  4. "But God..." two of the most beautiful words known to humanity. How would we ever endure these things without Him?

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  5. I watched a NOVA presentation by Hawkings last week. Our sun is one of 33 neighbor suns on a minor arm of the milky way, which is itself a minor galaxy. Our existence is random (and miraculous) and events are random too. It seems unfair because we take events personally. My uncle was a homeless drunk, he was sometimes mean. The source of his addiction (undiagnosed learning disability) was random, and unfair. His living longer than more caring and gifted people (like your father) is not a causation, or correlation, or a personal affront. It is random. Yes, we want answers where there are none. I feel your hurt in this blog post, without a father as a cornerstone, there is a vivid experience of abandonment and less security. I believe that practicing love is the right action when we struggle in the face of hurtful, random events. Acceptance towards yourself (and mean drunks) is a loving act of discernment, resolution, letting go. Exercising Love in the face of struggle is the sole answer that gives clarity and wisdom. (it is not easy) I also heartily agree with Meredith that when you feel emptied of love, faith gets you through the day. Hope, faith, but Love is the greatest of these. Thanks for making me think about a difficult subject.

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    1. Larry is hooked on the Hawking series. Whether seemingly random or not, I believe our lives have a plan, even when we can't see the larger picture. Love and gratitude are the only answers,

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  6. Sometimes we want God to protect us from unfair things, yet he does not. God turns us loose, rather like biological fathers, and the comfort is that God stands with us, He stands by us. And that's about a theological as I can get on a Monday morning....

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  7. When I was in my 20's I thought life got easier as we aged.
    That sure didn't work out. Hopefully we are wiser, hopefully!

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  8. All part of a larger plan. We don't see the entire plan at once, but it all functions together. God is our refuge. These things are not sent by God. I don't know WHY He doesn't take ALL of them away (some things I have seen miraculously fixed, but others the answer was "wait"). In the meantime, we roll with the punches and cope as best we can while having confidence that His eye is on the sparrow, and we know we are also in God's care. He's got the whole world in His hands.

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    1. Sometimes we'd love to see the big picture!

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  9. After my son died in 2002 just a few weeks shy of turning 35, I was stuck in my grief for 8 years. But then I woke up one day and said to myself, "He is just too dead. How can I make him come more alive to me?" And I set out writing a diary to him over the next year. Instead of it being hard to write, I found the words flowed. And my grief flowed with the words. Writing "Out of Step: A Diary To My Dead Son" brought him into my daily world and he did become more alive to me. And has remained so. It will have to do.

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    1. As a writer, I cope with grief by writing. When we were in Japan, we lost several friends and family members. I dealt with their losses by writing down my memories. I later learned some of these were read at memorial services. It didn't make the pain go away, but it helped. Parents shouldn't outlive their children. It has to be the most painful experience anyone can go through.

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