The last few months have given us all plenty of time to reflect on ourselves and our lives.
What am I proud of?
What changes do I have to make?
What new skill can I learn?
What do I want my life to be defined by?
Recently, someone on Reddit tossed out a hard-hitting hypothetical question that went viral and racked up over 31,000 comments:
If you could remove one event from your life, what would it be?
A pretty intense question. Expectantly, it garnered some pretty intense answers. Yet found even within the most unimaginable trauma are lessons of gratitude. (Editor’s note: Trigger warning — the following content might be difficult to read and contains references to sexual abuse and other traumatic events.)
Loss of a loved one
To visit the page is to scroll through some of life’s greatest suffering imaginable.
My wife passing away. Let’s just remove that part and have her sitting next to me right now talking about the ham she’s going to make for Thanksgiving
Many wondered how different (read: better) their life would be if their mother, brother, sister or father was still around.
Guilt and regret — the first cousins of loss. It was a pervasive theme in the thread, with many of those wounds still very fresh for some users.
In one case, one user didn’t have the chance to bury the hatchet with his grandfather before he died. “I’m sorry grandpa, I shouldn’t have been so harsh on you. You were just trying to pass down your beliefs to me.. I’m sorry.”
Another Reddit user was mourning from losing her sister to brain cancer one month before her 18th birthday: “I feel constant guilt that she didn’t get to be here but I am, and shame that I’m wasting it”
From physical, sexual to mental abuse, including one person whose father would tease him about his weight as a child which “absolutely ruined his sense of self”, there were many humans broken at the hands of other humans sharing their experiences on Reddit.
Other life events people would remove included being robbed by a good friend, witnessing a murder and “my first cigarette“.
The human spirit shines through
But there is beauty to be found in the darkness. As moving as reading the many tragic events was the sheer outpouring of empathy and support from the Reddit community in practically every post.
“Good friend of mine had this happen to him. He was the nicest and coolest guy and still is. Keep your head up mate, and know your friends and fellow redditors are here for you”
“I lost my dad and sister both in 2019. Hugs to you.”
Inspiring still was the ability for some, despite going through unspeakable tragedy, to focus on the positive in their lives.
I would say my marriage but it brought me my best friends that helped me after it ended. Also she got me to volunteer with her to help rehabilitate baby song birds at the university. Something I never would have thought of doing on my own.-Grimmlan
I lost my dad when I was 3 so I really didn’t have any memory of him but I always wonder what my life would be like if he was alive. I used to get really down about it but I’ve found that it’s helped shape me into the man I am now along with my amazing mother and that it’s better to turn it into something positive. I hope you’re doing well.– Wumbopower
Look for something positive each day, even if somedays you have to look a little harder
There’s no getting around it: Some of the events described were horrifying, and unfathomable to imagine.
However, just like a flower sprouting through the crack of a cement sidewalk, there was also something special taking place. By coming together, many complete strangers managed to cultivate an attitude of gratitude — despite their difficult life experiences.
By not only having gratitude, but also expressing it to others, we can help each other heal.
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