"This philosophy does not try to convince us, as many irresponsible traditions teach, that there is any kind of blessing in pain. There is no kind of 'reward' for passing the 'test.' There is no kind of 'purpose' or 'plan' in exchange for one's suffering. As I said earlier, I believe there is almost nothing more offensive than hearing that there is a reason for your loss. However, there is the potential in this state of suffering to see more clearly than you may have ever seen before in your life.

"So I am not offering an easy religious solution to horrific problems. There is no blessing in grief and loss. It hurts. It feels like a curse, and it just plain stinks. That does not mean, however, that we should try to run away from the truth that the experience of suffering may offer us. What I will continue to offer is a discernment of the difference between getting through our grief and transforming through our grief. There is a significant difference. With the former, we are doing anything we can to make life the same as it was before the tragedy. We keep ourselves busy when we should be mourning or sad. We disguise ourselves in an armor of strength to show the world that we are okay when we so badly need to be helped and embraced and held. We just try to get through until we push it out of our minds, the pain ebbs, and we move on without ever healing from within.

"When we transform through suffering, we stay present in our pain. We cry and yell out and accept the support our community wants to send our way. We allow ourselves to lash out in anger and frustration at the world and even, and especially, at God. We allow ourselves to be weak in ways we learned we were not supposed to. We become vulnerable and deeply open because all we want to do is tell our truth since it hurts too much to keep it inside. We allow ourselves to feel small and insignificant in this huge world and thus begin to feel relief because it isn't all about us. We allow transformation, even though it is frightening to confront certain parts of ourselves that we haven't quite wanted to see. We do what is counterintuitive and show the world that to expose our weaknesses is to eventually find our deepest strength. We can transform; we can transcend; but first we must have the fortitude to surrender to our reality."