Positive Living Newsletter

Finding purpose and meaning in the darkness

Tamara Hill

Ever since I was a young child, I was drawn to a scripture passage in the New International Version of the Christian Bible which is: “You are a lamp to my feet and a light to guide my path” (psalm 119:105). I never really understood why I felt drawn to that passage until I began adult life. I realized, probably around the age of 26, that life was uncertain and not promised to any of us. Every single moment is a miracle. The breath we take, the proper functioning of our lungs and blood to sustain us, and the mobility of our bodies carry us from moment to moment. It is a true blessing when everything falls into place and our lives are complete. But how do we make sense of the things we never expected would happen? How do we cope with the reality that life isn’t always good and that, for some people, life is terribly painful?

For these individuals, the painfulness of life takes precedence, and the pursuit of a future may not be a strong desire. I once had a female client who endured years of traumatic experiences including abuse from her adopted family. She became so despondent and so lost in her life that she strongly contemplated suicide. She would go on to see multiple psychotherapists in both the United States and the United Kingdom, only to later find out that she wasn’t getting any better. Depression and a sense of hopelessness took over her life. It led to sleepless nights, crying spells for weeks, and contemplating suicide. Thoughts of suicide occurred daily and were intense. That’s when she was referred to me.

Having experienced many ups and downs, grief, and loss, and now a traumatic brain injury, I was able to relate. My desire to help her hold on to life was the driving force each session. We talked about a lot of things such as marriage, family, future goals, and hope. We also laughed, cried, and shared a hug or two. My role as support for her became that much more important to me over the years we would work together.

After 4 years she was finally strong enough to choose life. She realized that while it was painful and nothing she had accomplished or received would last forever, it was better to live than to end it all and possibly meet her destiny far too soon. That road was scary for her. Nothing is promised if she took her life. She didn’t know what was next. We spent multiple sessions talking about the inevitable end we all have to face. For her, I truly believe she came to a place of realization that it was better to live and experience what life had to offer her (good or bad) than to end it all and miss a brighter future. Once it is over, it is over. She found the courage to live. And she gave me hope that no matter how hard life can be, there’s always hope for a better tomorrow.