Finding Meaning in Violent Loss

When I hear about “finding meaning” in grief, I feel a knee-jerk reaction to snap back with a salty, “What possible meaning can come from the violent death of a beautiful, sweet, healthy ten-year-old girl?”

What I want to assure you of is this: I am in no way suggesting that the death of your loved one had a point. Had a deeper purpose. Meaning. I don’t believe that. I believe that the death of your loved one sucks. Really, really sucks.

However, I ALSO believe that your world has changed and is never going back to the way it was. I’m so very sorry, but this is the difficult truth. So, in my view, you have two options. You either can stay stuck in your grief and pain and fear and guilt or you can decide to move forward and create meaning. Not meaning for your loved one’s death but meaning for your loved one’s life. I believe your person’s life had meaning, and that it should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Your Life Has Meaning

I also believe that YOUR life has meaning. It might not feel like it right now, but you can choose to create meaning moving forward. Finding meaning in your grief or in the life of the person you’ve lost doesn’t mean you’ll find easy answers or that your pain will magically resolve or disappear. But it can give you a kind of anchor when everything else seems to be floating away.

Think of it as tightening the screws on a rickety table. It might not make the table brand new, but it does make it more stable and easier to use for whatever you need it for, things like holding your morning cup of coffee without spilling it everywhere. When you search for meaning, you’re essentially looking for a way to integrate this profound loss into your inner narrative about your life. It can help make things a bit more bearable and provide a sense of direction when you’re feeling utterly lost.

Plus, believe it or not, finding meaning can open doors to a new level of emotional depth and empathy, and even a renewed sense of purpose. You might discover new ways to honor the person you’ve lost or find a newfound commitment to living your life in a way that would make your person proud.

Don’t shy away from the big, scary questions. Lean into the existential crisis and the search for meaning. Embrace your moody internal philosopher. It’s a tough road, but it’s one that can lead to some surprisingly positive destinations.

Wait, did I just use the word positive? Yes. Yes, I did. But before we get there, we need to start at the other end of the spectrum.

Read more by Brooke Carlock at Grieving Mommy: One Mama’s Journey Through Child Loss/Grieving Mommy: a grieving mom’s journey through child loss

Check out Brooke’s other writing on Open to Hope‘You’re SO Strong’: A Misunderstanding of Grief – Open to Hope

Brooke Carlock

Brooke Carlock has been punched in the face by grief on more than a few occasions, but she keeps getting back up and hopes to inspire others to do the same. She is the creator of the “Grief Sucks with Brooke Carlock” YouTube Channel and host of the “Mourning Coffee” Podcast, and cofounder of Live Like Libby, a nonprofit organization that provides dance scholarships in her late daughter’s honor. She has also been a middle school English teacher and freelance writer since earning a bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has been featured on, Open to Hope, Scary Mommy, and Filter Free Parents. Now an empty nester, Brooke resides in a tiny house by herself, which makes her introverted heart happy. When she’s not making videos, providing grief support, writing books, or wrangling middle schoolers, she enjoys reading historical fiction, baking, and going to farmers markets. She lives in a small town in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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