Dealing With Tragedy Through Faith

The murder of twenty children and six adults in a Newtown, Connecticut school was devastating, heartbreaking, and senseless. The terrorism that began at the Boston Marathon and plagued the New England city for a few days thereafter claimed four lives and left over 100 injured, some who lost limbs and whose lives will never be the same. The immense destruction in lives and property that the typhoon caused in the Philippines caused is heart-wrenching. Unfortunately, these incidents are not isolated — there have been others and certainly there will be more.

On top of these global happenings, there are more personal hardships. A parent loses a job, a family loses its house, a family member falls ill and passes. There is no shortage of incidents that cause despair. Ultimately, everyone experiences tragedy or significant hardship at some point in their life whether on a personal and/or societal level.

Each of us must find a way to overcome in order to continue to appreciate life and its blessings. There is no secret formula or one ‘right way’ as to how to move on. Whatever your coping method is, it may change depending on the situation and its particular impact upon you.

In a time of tragedy, one question that may arise is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” As a person who is a strong adherent to his faith, dealing with this unanswerable question means turning to G-d. While I am horrified at the loss of children in Newtown, the carnage in Boston and the destruction in Oklahoma, I believe that there is a G-d and he controls everything. Part of me wishes I knew why tragedies occur while another part of me thinks knowing would make it even worse. I am not ready to be the boss or know about his decision process. So, I live with the uncertainty of why things occur but the certainty that ultimately, everything is for the best even if that ‘best’ will never be evident to me.

How do we discuss the tragedy with children? The first step, in my opinion, is to recognize what he or she is capable of handling and wants to know. We told my nine-year-old son minimal details about the Newtown event, and my six-year-old son, none. (There was terrible irony in that – he is not even able to take in an event that others his age witnessed, and succumbed to.) In other words, take your cues from the child.

Any discussion I have with my child comes back to G-d and our family’s belief that he makes the final decisions. We believe each decision is right and for the best whether we ‘get it’ or not. Is it reasonable to expect a child to understand this or to feel comforted by it? I believe many children do indeed feel comforted when they are reminded that G-d runs the show. Children want to know there is order and direction. What often makes tragedy so difficult to deal with from a child’s perspective is that he/she is afraid and uncertain.

Lastly, we need to encourage our children that grieving must take place. It is natural and right to be sad and feel sympathy for those who have suffered tragedy. I believe embracing G-d’s control does provide comfort even if we are not always comfortable with the result.



Feature Photo credit: Grant Mitchell / / CC BY-NC-SA


The Beginning
About Larry Bernstein

Larry is a married father of two. He and his family reside in North Jersey. Larry is a blogger, free-lance writer and a high school English teacher.
He enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports. Larry loves to laugh and incorporates humor into his writing whenever possible.

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  1. Sis says:

    Tough question to take on! It makes me think of God’s answer at the end of the book of Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth”

    …who am I to question the intentions of God, He’s proven Himself good over and over again for us

  2. While I believe this, there are times when it is easier to believe than others.

This is what I think...