Since I work with people facing life’s hardships, it is not unusual for me to hear the question, “Why me?” when a death, injury, or tragedy happens. In fact, when I was a psychologist on a rehabilitation medicine floor where people were admitted after serious accidents or sudden life-changing medical events, this question was constantly being asked.
After all, if you are a 19-years-old who just broke his neck after diving into a swimming pool, you really might wonder, “Why me?” Similarly, if you are driving down the highway and your car is hit by a drunk driver, killing one of your children, you might rightfully ask, “Why me?” Or, if you have always been conscientious about your health and then suddenly have a stroke, you might also feel compelled to ask, “Why me?”
What I have learned is that none of us is immune to the sorrows and tragedies of life. At some point, every single one of us sustains loss and experiences suffering. Following such an event, we often have a strong need to make sense of what has happened, so we ask, “Why me?” Sometimes we assume the answer is linked to our goodness or badness: ”I got hurt because I was being really mean to my mom.” The minute you understand that “good” people suffer as well, it’s harder to automatically connect tragedy or hardship to your own behavior.
The reality is that we are living beings, and as such, we are vulnerable. We are part of nature, but sometimes forget that although nature is beautiful, it can also be extremely brutal. Joy, sorrow, success, disappointment, blessing, or hardship–these are all an integral part of life’s complex tapestry. We are challenged to humbly understand and accept the reality that we sometimes have little control over what happens in our lives.
So, perhaps the question each one us really needs to contemplate is: “Why NOT me?”