An earthquake, a tsunami, a tornado, a royal wedding…

Last week, as I sat in my pajamas at 2:30 am PST and watched Catherine Middleton marry Prince William, I had the realization that each of these life altering events has had elements of both grief and blessings attached to it.

When we experience a world tragedy like a tsunami or an earthquake, we feel the pain and grief for the families who have lost their homes, their businesses and their loved ones. Natural disasters, remind us that we are human and life is very fragile. These tragedies also offer opportunities for us as human beings to get very present with our lives and the lives of others and to help in whatever way we can. That may be with a gift of our money or our time. There are often heart warming stories of people helping each other and mobilizing their resources after a natural disaster. At our most vulnerable time and need, people come together in ways perhaps they would not have otherwise. Out of terrible grief and loss comes connection and sometimes even renewed joy.

The royal wedding of Catherine and Prince William, provided this same level of human connection. In 1981, when Princess Diana married Prince Charles the world watched. I was 13 years old. I remember the wedding vividly. We watched in our basement den on our family television. I fell in love with Princess Diana that day, as I know others did around the world. The grandeur of the royal wedding was romantic and as a teenage girl nothing was more exciting. When I was pregnant with our first child in 1997, my husband and I took a trip to England and enjoyed traveling in London and the British countryside stopping each day to enjoy the British custom of high tea. When I learned of Princess Diana’s death in August of 1997, we had just returned home from our visit to England and the pangs of the grief I felt caught me by surprise. I cried for hours as I sat in our backyard and read the story of her life and death. For so many of us, the loss of a princess and our hope for her happiness was unfathomable and unsettling. We collectively shared the grief of the royal family and watched her two young boys follow behind the casket at her funeral. It felt devastating and out of order. This wasn’t suppose to happen to a young woman and a member of the royal family. In our minds, ┬áthe royal family should be immune to this kind of tragedy. And yet they are not, no one is, not movie stars, not politicians not the royal family and so we cried for their loss. We collectively shared the pain and suffering felt not only by Diana’s family but also for the British people as a whole and even the loss we felt one human to another.

So the royal wedding last week, offered us the another part of the journey. We felt utter joy to see William marry his college sweetheart. A girl whom he had loved for years and whom he had finally asked to marry him. We could see William the man, who had survived the tragedy of losing his mother and now had found himself a beautiful bride and the joy we felt for them again was collective and powerful. Millions of people tuned in to experience this special day and the next part of the journey. People wanted some hope and joy for William and it seemed now that he had found that.

Sometimes in our day to day life we forget that there is always going to be grief and tragedy, joy and delight and both must be in our lives to help us appreciate the other.

The day after the wedding, I read that Kate and William had set up an official Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund and was inviting the public to make a charitable donation in their honor rather than sending any sort of a gift. I was beaming when I read the story and felt so much joy thinking about the hope that this young couple is bringing to the world. May they be blessed with a long and happy marriage. For more information about their charity visit: The Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund.

Today, think about your life, both the joys and grief you have experienced. What can you do to bring something positive out of a tragic situation? Let yourself be moved to begin to create goodness out of any sort of grief you have experienced. Perhaps something surprising will occur.