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We have to find joy amidst the suffering of this world

No matter where we seem to turn the world is heavy lately.

Really really heavy. Back breaking. Soul shaking. Heavy.

The heavy that wears you down and seems to affect your mood and mental state without your knowledge or permission.

There’s so much we could list.

We’re heading into the third year of Covid. The third year of lockdowns and quarantines and missed school and missed play dates. The third year of changing mandates and changing rules. A third year of “new normals”. New normals that change before we understood the old normals. A constant chaos. A new extra worry on top of all the regular worry.

Then, out of nowhere comes a school shooting Tik Tok challenge. Really? Now we have to worry (more) if it’s safe to send our kids to school.

Why? How did we end up here.

As I scroll through Facebook I see friend’s posts like this:

“The fact that our 10 year old daughter is analyzing how the window in her classroom door directly faces her desk makes me want to scream and move off the grid. I hate the world we live in.”

Or, strangers on community groups debating back and forth on whether to send their kids to school or not. Arguing hypotheticals and what ifs.

It’s head turning and stomach churning.

Last week, a photo went viral. It’s of three little girls smiling in the bathtub sheltering from a rapidly approaching tornado in Kentucky, along with the words reading: “A heartbreaking photo shows a young girl sheltering in a bathtub with her sisters moments before she was killed by a tornado as devastating storms ripped across the central US last weekend.”

This photo has haunted me since I saw it. Those parents. Those kids. They had no idea what was coming. Not a single clue.

The beauty of life is the unknown. However, the pain of life is also the unknown.

Pain and hurt are everywhere

Late last night a friend posted in our small (13 member) classroom Facebook group asking for prayers. Yesterday at school her niece left via ambulance because of a debilitating headache and trouble with balance. She went to school that morning feeling fine. And, that quick everything changed. By night fall the six year old first grader was scheduled for next-day emergency surgery to try and remove the massive tumor blocking fluids from leaving her brain.

I read the status and then looked back on Facebook. The little girl was smiling at our school’s Christmas show last week. Completely fine. Her first day of school photos are now heartbreaking.

We just don’t know what will come next

The world is so heavy. The grief and fear and unknown can quickly become too much.

It’s harder to breathe.

It’s harder to parent.

It’s harder to just be a human.

I called my mom on my way to work today to tell her about the TikTok challenge, and the girl in the bathtub and the girl in the nurse’s office at school.

My mom: “Why do you insist on telling me this stuff? It makes my belly hurt.”

We need to start finding even the smallest joys

Because we need to change our minds.

We need to push aside the grief and hard and sadness for this world.

We need to take deep breaths.

We need to start celebrating every. single. moment.

We need to find the joy. Even the smallest of joys.

Because, as this week has demonstrated we never ever ever know when that moment, when even the smallest joy, is going to change.

Jacqueline Waxman

Jacqueline Waxman, M.Ed living in New Jersey with her kids. I’m a social worker by profession and Mom by choice. I chauffeur children to their preferred destinations, feed-bathe-and-clothe my little people when we are not playing outside. Passions include writing, photography and advocacy. You can find me on Facebook at

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