Viktor Frankl

Before Jack’s death I had been singularly blessed in that I had never experienced depression. Like all human beings there were the normal highs and lows of everyday living especially in the parish, but I had a strong resilient personality and was always able to pump myself up and move forward. I found that grief had many tentacles and there were so many persons, places and things that immediately reminded me of Jack. There was also, after my initial denial that he was dead an overwhelming sense of anger. I was angry at the reality that in the prime of his life without warning he was killed. I was angry at myself with the fantasy that if I had stayed in Westfield that particular day would have been my day off and not his. In the magical thinking phase the logic was that he would have been safe on duty in the rectory. Hell I was even mad at Jack .Why did he get into the wrong lane and why did he leave the restaurant when it was pouring rain? I was angry at the reality that so many others were not in his league as human beings, and yet he was the one who was dead. None of it made sense but it was real and the anger was overwhelming.

Returning to the college in Rome I was somewhat spent, and there were messages from many people in the states offering their condolences and genuine support. In the middle of these messages was some mail, and in this bundle was a letter from Jack. He was to visit me in Rome the first week in November and besides bringing me up to snuff on the parish happenings, he shared his excitement that Rome was only a few weeks away. It was so painful to read the living words of my best friend knowing that he was dead. I knew that I had to climb out of this well of sadness and for some reason I went to my bookshelf and pulled out Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” As I waded through the pages it was almost as though Frankl was speaking directly to me. The opportunity to study with him was at a distant future date but I knew that the moment of need was now, and I decided to seize the day.

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