Logotherapy “Stresses man’s freedom to transcend suffering and find a meaning to his life regardless of circumstances…”
This theory came from Viktor E. Frankl, a man who suffered unspeakable conditions as a prisoner in concentration camps. His book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, is a book to be read and reread. I want to quote from a section of this book as it applies to the suffering of loosing a spouse.
“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with … a fate that cannot be changed. … When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Let me cite a clear-cut example. Once an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now, how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question. ‘What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!’ whereupon I replied, ‘You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering – to be sure, at the price that you now have to survive and mourn her.’… In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice.”
This reminds me of an earlier post of mine called “Not Separated” when my father wrote to my mother about their separation. “In a way I feel as though it were a duty my love owes to you to use this summer to the best advantage – to get all the good out of it that I may.” His search for meaning?