How to See the Beauty and Greatness in Any Tragedy

excruciating pain and grief

Have you ever suffered great sadness?

Has life dealt you such a blow that you wondered if you’ll ever recover?

Every day we face so many challenges in our daily lives which can knock us out of our stride and daily routine.

Yet in the greater scheme of things, what most of us consider to be a challenge is usually nothing!

So what if your train to work was late or you got stuck in traffic on your way to an “important” meeting!?

What I am talking about here is life changing events and challenges that we sometimes face.

For example, in the last few weeks, I have had a friend losing her elderly mother after a long illness during which she lost most of her faculties. It was so painful for my friend to see her mother deteriorate like this  – she felt so helpless and sad as nature took its course.

Another friend I saw over Xmas after a year, has just made a full recovery from a serious illness after a year’s intense treatment. During that time she became a hermit and cut communications with most people and it was heartening to see her looking so good and healthy.

And today, I received a very moving and yet heart-warming email from a friend whose newly born baby boy is seriously ill and faces a number of operations.

I have often written here on my blog about making the most of our life and our time on this planet. And I have also talked about how there’s always a brighter side to everything and how we should always try and be positive.

A while ago I wrote about how to suffer excruciating pain and live again.

The point is this – life can be so tragic and yet so inspiring and uplifting.

What is the greater meaning behind all this suffering and pain?

If you believe in a greater power – god, source, energy, universe or whatever you choose to call it – why does this greater power allow such things to happen!?

I always remember the closing line in this famous story about baseball kids allowing a physically challenged boy called Shay to join their game and hit the winning run.

At the end of that story, Shay’s father says with tears rolling down his face –

‘That day ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

So this is really what it is all about.

Your life and mine is all about bringing a piece of true love and humanity into this world.

Period. Nothing else matters.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”Rumi


We are not who we once were and we are ready for more.

“The grace of God means something like:
Here is your life. You might never have been, but
you are because the party wouldn’t have been
complete without you.
~Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

At the end of the day, this is what it really comes down to – we humans are such powerful beings and we are capable of facing any heart- rending challenges.

We can face and overcome anything – and best of all we are capable of showing such deep and intense compassion and kindness that it breaks one’s heart (if that’s ever possible since our hearts are SO big).

The take way from this post is this – part of the human condition is to suffer heart-rending pain, go through the loss of loved ones and face umpteen other challenges in the course of our lives.

Ultimately we get to discover who we really are!

And the moment we dare to be vulnerable and we reveal our true selves, the journey becomes easier and indeed even joyful.

I wish all of you well on this amazing journey of life.

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  1. Right. At the end of the day, nothing else really matters except the love and relationships we cherish. It has been somewhat of a challenge for me to practice living for the moment and living for today. The year that just went by was full of tragic losses in the family and we’d jump up, a little terrified each time the phone rang early in the morning or late at night, because it could be bad news. When we embrace the pain and allow ourselves to feel what we feel, only then do we begin to accept what happened, and learn to cherish the good moments.

    Loved the post, Arvind.

    • Vidya, welcome to my blog:-)

      Thanks for sharing about the year of tragic losses you have just had. But as you say, when you embrace the pain and allow yourselves to feel it, you begin to accept whatever happens.

      May this year be one full of good moments for you to cherish always.

  2. Steven | The Emotion Machine says

    Great post. This is at the root of my personal philosophy about life. We can find valuable lessons in even the darkest of times. For example, when I went through severe depression a few years ago, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences for me. Today I am a stronger person because of it.

  3. Arvind, thank you for this lovely post; I’m proud to be featured on your site! Indeed, as you say, “Your life and mine is all about bringing a piece of true love and humanity into this world.” And you have done that here. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Caroline, thank YOU for your book:-)

      Let us all make our lives about bringing more love and humanity into this world.

      Wishing you all the best with launch of the hard copy of your book.

  4. Cathy | Treatment Talk says

    Hi Arvind,

    You have said it so well. It is so important to take pleasure in life and live each day to the fullest. We all have our challenges and they come in different forms but if we search for the silver lining, it is often there. When we accept that life will be difficult at times, we can appreciate the joyful moments so much more. Thank you for your inspiring post and sharing Caroline’s book. It looks like a good one.

    • Cathy, welcome to my blog:-)

      Once we accept that life in this world comes with “challenges”, then those challenges become more bearable. Loss of loves ones is part of our human nature – and sooner or later most of us have to experience the numbing pain of such loss.

      At the same time, we get to appreciate more moments of joy – indeed we seek out and create more moments of joy.

      And surely that’s what it’s all about – more joy!

  5. Fran Sorin says

    Dear Arvind,

    You have said it ‘all’ in this post. Some people may call it being an ‘optimist’ or another may describe it as ‘having faith’ when being resilient through difficult times.

    How right you are about bringing love into the world! I think loving while you’re on this earth is your legacy. I have never known someone close to death who has talked about how he wished he had been more successful, etc. It usually comes down to gratefulness in having so much love in his life…or the ‘should have’ put more time into my family.

    Thanks for a meaningful post. Fran

    • Fran, welcome to my blog.

      Call it faith or optimism or something else, it certainly gets us through difficult times.

      Indeed many people’s lives have been completely transformed after having faced a tough life challenge, such as the loss of a loved one, a serious accident or a life change such as divorce.

      And perhaps that’s why we face such challenges in the first place – so as to be jolted into a new level of awareness.

      It’s then that we become more grateful for what we already have in our lives and also become more loving.

      Here’s to more life changing challenges!

  6. My favorite quote from this post that sums things up for me is: And the moment we dare to be vulnerable and we reveal our true selves, the journey becomes easier and indeed even joyful.

    Opening up to our own pains creates deeper connections with others and it’s those connections that allow us to better handle future struggles.

    Beautiful, Arvind!!

    • Paige, welcome to my blog! Thanks for your kind words:-)

      To me, it’s always been about making deeper connections with other people and quite often this happens during our sternest challenges.

      So in a way, there are many gifts to be received from our biggest challenges, though during the time when we are in turmoil, it may not seem so.

  7. It seems the more I focus on what I already have and most especially the people I have in my life the more grateful I am. These are the things that come into play when sadness and tragedy come along as well.

    Mahalo for the post and the book recommendation.

    • Jt, that’s so true that we appreciate the people and things already in our life when we are going through sad and tragic times.

      The real lesson in life is to learn to appreciate people and things during the good times:-)

  8. Hi Arvind,
    Life is difficult and tragedy happens to everyone. Caroline is an amazing person and writer. Personally I don’t know anyone so sincere online.

    One of my daughters was born without a right hand. It wasn’t a tragedy, it is just “her.” It’s amazing what she has done with her life.

    For me we are here to learn how to unconditionally love each other. It’s the purpose behind everything.

    My own mom died at age 90 last year. I know how your friend felt. It’s difficult, it’s important to grieve. And when that’s done you just realize it’s all a part of life. We can’t see the whole picture. This too shall pass. Always has and always will!

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