Tightening community in tragic times

Submitted by nbuchana on February 20, 2013 - 5:09pm
How does tragedy and hardship strengthen community?

I recently had the chance to reflect on the impact of tragedy and hardship in bringing communities closer together. I received some sad news a couple of days ago from a long-distance friend of mine about three accidental deaths that had majorly impacted her community. While I experienced feelings of deep sadness for my friend upon hearing this news, I couldn't help but notice the gratitude she expressed for the support from her community that she had been receiving since the event. 


For me, death is a very difficult concept to grapple with, as I'm sure it is for many of us. With this story though, I found myself thinking about tragedy from a new angle. From my friend's description, it seemed that the support and connection she has felt from her community in recent days is in some ways incomparable to any other experience. While I am in no way left thinking that these deaths are a positive thing for the community, I can't help but think that the way people carry each other through tragedy and hardship is a beautiful and meaningful thing. 

Do others have experiences of tragedy or hardship leading to an even tighter sense of community? Has the opposite been true in other experiences? I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this subject. 

This experience has also lead me to reflect on ways to be a support to those that aren't near us. Since my friend and I live in different cities, I find myself struggling with how to support her from so far away. Any thoughts on this? 

food love

Hi Nbuchana,

When my dad died last Spring I felt the strength of my community in a new way. My dad lived with us so this was his community too. Most people gave their support in the form of food. Meals were coordinated and dropped off for weeks and weeks. Some people gave us grocery and gas cards which helped with the increased costs of hosting and travelling that the death required.

I suggest gas and grocery cards for your far away friend.

Death is something that connects us all.


Tragedies CAN bring us closer together

Thanks so much for sharing, Nicole. Loss is a tricky and almost taboo topic in our society. It can be uncomfortable to discuss- but, as my Middle Eastern taxi driver said a few weeks ago (as we discussed the recent passing of his parents) "you all hide from death around here. But, we must accept it. Dying is a part of life." I think he's right.

I would echo your thought, here. I do think tragedy has the potential to bring us out of ourselves and into a place of deep connection and support of each other... it's too bad it takes tragedy for this to happen, sometimes.

Check out these two blogs: by Joyce and Chris, I think you'll enjoy them!

As for supporting your friend from afar... car packages with her favourite treats/teas/encouragement notes, send her flowers, try and arrange a visit (even if you meet at a half-way point), and keep her in your thoughts/prayers.


Thanks again for sharing!