30 Minute Meditations on Being Human from the Life and Writings of Viktor Frankl, Day 9: Finding Meaning in Love, Suffering and Death

Viktor Frankl: Founder of Logotherapy

Lesson for the Day: Even in a concentration camp, a person can, if he or she so chooses, find meaning in love, suffering and even death itself.

“As far as I was concerned, I felt duty-bound to my mother to stay alive. We two loved one another beyond all else. Therefore my life had a meaning – in spite of everything. But I had to count upon death any minute of every day. And therefore my death also should somehow have meaning – as well as all the suffering that I would have to go through before it came. And so I made a pact with Heaven: if I should have to die, then let my death preserve my mother’s life; and whatever I should have to suffer up until the time of my death was to purchase for her a sweet and easy death when her time came. Only by imagining it in terms of such a sacrifice was my tormented existence endurable. I could live my life only if it had a meaning; but I also wanted to suffer my suffering and die my death only if suffering and death also had a meaning.”

Source: Viktor E. Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, trans. Richard and Clara Winston, 3rd ed. (New York, N.Y.: Vintage Books/ Random House, 1986), pp. 137-138.

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