Death, illness, and loss are often morphed into tragic romances. It is conceived that in the wave of death comes a budding love. Out of illness comes an entrancement of life that one would be incapable of without the limit on the number of days as enforced by sickness. Death, war, and even cancer have all become romanticized in Hollywood, and often in our minds.
However, tragedy in itself, is not romantic. Tragedy cuts human hearts in a way that the sharpest knife could not. Tragedy entails great loss, not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well.
When considering society’s view of tragedy, I think of movies such as “Fault in our Stars,” “If I Stay,” “Me before You,” “A Walk to Remember,” and many more. Each of these movies seem to outline illness, loss, and tragedy as if they were the cause of some great triumph or the unearthing of hidden love.
When considering society’s view of tragedy, I also think of death in real life. It seems that people are quick to associate themselves with someone who has died or is dying. When people are faced with mortality, they are forced to examine it, to embrace the fact that, one day, they too will parish. As a result, whenever death comes around, people are quick to post their RIP’s on Facebook and Twitter.
For example, one time, when I was in high school, I noticed that one of my teammates had come to volleyball practice quite gloomy. She was visibly upset so I went over to talk to her while we were stretching. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “One of my best friends died yesterday from cancer. She was only 14.”
I gave her a hug and my condolences, wishing that I could do more. Throughout volleyball practice, I kept trying to come up with something to say to help her through her grief. I finally decided that I would ask her what kind of person her friend was. I knew that sometimes talking about the deceased helps to ease the loss, if even just a little.
Between drills I walked over to her and said, “I’m so sorry about your friend. What was her name?”
She replied, a little embarrassed, “Actually, I don’t know.”
The girl who had died was someone that she knew from her church, but wasn’t close with.
I get it, I really do. Whenever tragedy affects us indirectly, we feel almost honored to be a part of something so raw and real. We are spurred to think about the value of our lives and inspired to work harder with the time we have left, because really, we could die tomorrow. But everyone seems to be missing the point. Tragedy in itself is not romantic and it never will be.
The wonderful, romantic, and unforgettable thing in the wake of tragedy is called hope.
Hope is the thing that makes romance and inspiration. Tragedy, true tragedy, is only darkness and a pure sense of hopelessness.
The death of those we hardly know causes us to feel alive. We are urged to live our lives to the fullest, and for a moment, we are more thankful for what we have. However, the death or illness of someone who is close to us leaves us a dark pit. When we lose someone we really love, we feel as if we have died ourselves.
There is a definite difference between tragedy and hope, and it’s important that we respect them both. It is essential to recognize that pure tragedy is devastating, and hope is hard to find in such times. It is with this recognition that we will be able to better empathize with those who are experiencing great loss.
In the same way, it is important that we continue to embrace the inspiration that hope that distant tragedy brings us. Harm is caused only when we express or enforce our hope on those closer to tragedy than we might are.
Recognizing the difference between distant loss and close loss as well as the differing attributes between hope and tragedy allows us to participate civilly in the lives of others.
Neither the sun, nor death can be looked at steadily.
—François de La Rochefoucauld