Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? (A Conversation About Grief)
By Summer Wadleigh
Throughout my short, yet highly valued time interning for Around Wellington and understanding what it’s like to write for a publication regularly, most, if not all of my articles have been about history, current events, or my political opinions. Though as I attempt to write my September edition of this column, I find myself wanting to pursue a topic much more personal. While this fraction of my work has remained solely on the factual side, I figured that I could try to use this article as an outlet in understanding my own emotions rather than bringing myself to write my usual, because sometimes we just can’t. I hope that anyone reading this can see a piece of themselves within it, and thus can find comfort while coping with immense loss.
As August comes to a close and September begins, I find myself reflecting on how different my life was two years ago, and doing some internal examination on the amount of progress I’ve made since my grandmother’s death in September 2018. Throughout my childhood and my early teenage years, my grandmother was nothing short of my best friend. She had this unfaltering light, this presence that was soft, yet commanded attention in every single room she walked into. Her pure kindness was practically unignorable, and she inspired so many people to become improved versions of themselves. She did this through her passion for education. The years that she spent working for my Elementary school as well as the School District of Palm Beach County, she mainly worked with books, and helped provide a lot of students with accessible reading tools, while also making the library my go-to hang out spot whenever I wanted to spend time with her. There was an extensive amount of room for growth throughout my childhood, and I looked no further than her in my search for the unconditional love and validation that I was lacking in most aspects of my life.
When I was eight years old, my grandmother began a battle with cancer that would not cease until shortly after my fifteenth birthday. This was an incredibly confusing time for me as I knew that cancer was a terminal illness, something that I had convinced myself was a death sentence, yet her spirit was almost better than before. With each surgery or round of chemo, she continuously embodied the image of strength, and was persistent in being there for the milestones that occurred within our family, or if she just wanted to pick me up and go out for lunch. Something as physically exhausting as frequent treatment did not affect her ability to be present in every moment and still appreciate the life that she had been given.
The thing about consistent recovery is that you’re never going to expect your loved one to go into a low risk operation and just die. In hearing something so intense, you begin to ask yourself a lot of questions, both answerable and unanswerable. Where is she now? Why was the last conversation that I had with her so casual? How will I go on without one of my most nurturing relationships? Why do bad things happen to good people? While I eventually reached my own conclusions in answering my vast variety of questions such as the reason behind the casualness of my last conversation with her being that I truly thought I was going to “see her later”, the question of why bad things happen to good people continues to nip at my brain nearly two years later.
Within these past couple of years, I believe that I am beginning to draw a progressive conclusion to that question as I continue to make my way through life without her ethereal spirit. Everyone in the world comes from a different walk of life, with different experiences, and different kinds of hardships that they have been dealt. Even amidst my personal array of hardships, I could have always been given another. But the universe gifted me her. I got to meet her and experience the person that she was. I had the privilege of being a piece of such a special person’s story, and hopefully some of what she taught me will allow me to be special too. In my desperate search for this answer, I realized that I had found it in the form of another question. It’s not a matter of why bad things happen to good people, but a matter of why do good things happen at all.