Meaning Reconstruction

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.” – Dalai Lama XIV

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” – Fredrich Nietzsche, PhD, Philosophy

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou, Author, Poet, and Civil Rights Activist

Those in the depths of grief often feel absolutely nothing good could ever come from loss and death. They feel angry if anything regarding healing is mentioned, and that’s OK. It makes sense anyone could feel this way.

Closing the heart can increase and extend suffering. Those feeling resistant to healing may find meaning reconstruction useful later. After whatever time it takes to digest the unimaginable, grievers may come to a place where they deeply desire peace. They may then allow considering life in a way that expands their views. 

Those who stay open may have had their lives touched in the most unexpected loving ways. When facing adversity, it can be helpful to wonder about what may come from it rather than focus on endless suffering. People around the world report discovering profound experiences they never expected after loss.  

Meaning refers to importance or value. It is how we understand the nature of our personal existence and feel it is significant and purposeful. Pursuing a meaningful life leads to thriving.

Some embrace only one word to describe their experience, and others can relate to more or all words used. Perspectives vary by person and situation. You decide what makes sense for you.

Descriptive words used

Meaning reconstruction, also called meaning making, is the process of how people reflect, understand, or make sense of life events, relationships, and the self. It refers to constructively redefining human existence. Grief can shatter assumptions about any part of life, but a new worldview can be created along with a life that works. Meaning can’t be imposed. It emerges as we process loss.

Growth involves a positive psychological change experienced because of adversity and other challenges to rise to a higher level of functioning.

Lessons are the truths about us and life we may not have seen without our loss experience. 

Gifts refer to the positive ways that loss affects your life after grieving. Experiences you receive without expectation of anything in return.

Blessings in disguise refer to experiences that first appear to be bad or unlucky but is good and seen as God’s favor.

Value or wisdom from suffering means painful emotions may motivate or even make us feel forced to focus on areas where we need improvement resulting in feeling empowered and experiencing a more meaningful life.  

Honoring deceased loved ones 

  • Developing an education program
  • Establishing a scholarship
  • Founding a goodwill movement like paying it forward
  • Fundraising
  • Getting a law passed
  • Making a documentary or movie
  • Participating in research
  • Publishing a book
  • Starting a charity or foundation

New or expanded understanding

  • Accepting life is impermanent
  • Accepting limitations
  • Achieving dreams priority
  • Allowing joy when grieving
  • Asking for help importance
  • Awaking to how to really live
  • Awaking to spiritual possibilities
  • Believing resilience can be learned
  • Cherishing the little special moments of life
  • Communicating to loved ones while alive
  • Compassion for those suffering
  • Considering a larger view of the world
  • Deepening loving relationships
  • Deepening support for others
  • Deepening religious or spiritual faith
  • Discover new life purposes
  • Enjoying experiences
  • Expecting difficulties
  • Expressing love now
  • Forgiving being healing
  • Helping others
  • Honoring a life can be healing
  • Identifying the ego as a source of suffering
  • Increased love of nature
  • Insignificant things no longer matter
  • Living fully
  • Living in the present moment
  • Making the most of the sweet simple times
  • Motivation for new knowledge
  • Opening to new ways of living
  • Realizing inner strength
  • Realizing knowing the deceased improved life
  • Realizing the fragility of life
  • Realizing the value of memories
  • Realizing the more we love the greater the grief
  • Recognizing physical presence is not required to love
  • Renewed appreciation for life
  • Seeking growth rather than focusing on suffering
  • Teaching others about grief and healing importance
  • Understanding grief before loss importance
  • Valuing the preciousness of physical form
  • Valuing time with loved ones