Last week, I talked about my deep admiration for the brilliant memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
In this extraordinary book, Frankl relates a story from his psychiatric practice. An elderly man came to him, a man who was still distraught with grief over the death of his wife two years before.
Frankl asked, “What would have happened…if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?”
The man answered, “Oh, for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!”
Frankl responded, “You see…such a suffering has been spared to her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering—to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.”
The man left the office, comforted.
Frankl observes, “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
It’s a profound observation: When our actions and experiences have meaning, our suffering is lightened.