After suffering a severe crisis, people often contemplate the ultimate meaning of life. After surviving the holocaust, Victor Frankl wrote Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything. After a different pandemic claimed two of her children, Mary Shelley wrote The Last Man which explored what makes life worth living. Walt Whitman wrote of this same question, after he suffered a paralyzing stroke.
These people knew suffering intimately. They didn’t try to forget. They didn’t try to pretend it never happened. They didn’t become embittered. Each one emerged from their crisis, with a valuable gift for the world. After allowing themselves time to fully experience their life, including the pain, they derived a sense of meaning from it. Then they bared their souls and we benefit today from their insights.