Finding The Collateral Beautiful In Tragedy


Have you heard of the term “collateral beauty”? I’ve always heard of collateral damage, but collateral beauty, not so much. That is, until I watched the movie Collateral Beauty, starring Will Smith. To be honest, I didn’t really grasp the concept, even after watching the movie, twice. I know that it focused on the unspeakable loss of a child and the very different paths that the parents took in the aftermath. In truth, I couldn’t understand how the concept of collateral beauty linked with the tragedy and plot of the movie.

Then something happened and I was hit with a realization. You see, I watched this movie two years ago—in fact, two weeks before I lost a precious family member. Anyway, an old friend was congratulating me on the launch of my website and I began lamenting how long it took me to actually get it going. I mentioned to him that it took a tragedy to make me take action. He then said these unforgettable words to me” “But you did it—that’s all that matters. There’s no better way to honour someone than to celebrate them.”

And just like that, I saw it clearly. What I am doing now with my writing, with my Facebook and Instagram pages, the outcome of my grief, this is collateral beauty.

This term has that potential to have a different meaning to different people. Events in our lives, especially traumatic ones, change us. I know for me, after losing someone so vital in my life, I felt so disconnected from everything and everyone. There was this numbness, but also this intense emotional pain. Anger, sadness, regret, and so many other emotions consumed me daily. I began questioning my faith and so many things that my life and beliefs were based on. But I know now that I was searching for some meaning, some hope, some light, some profound reason for his passing. I desperately needed to make sense of why someone so young, so promising, could have his life cut short when murderers, rapists, and thieves were allowed to live.

For me, the collateral beauty after my tragedy has been my journey in finding the light in the darkest of times and the acceptance that some things are beyond our understanding. From collateral beauty has come my conscious choice to not take even the littlest of things for granted. Both the small and big things in life, I cherish and feel every moment. I fully experience everything like I never did before. Now I live for the present and the future, no longer putting things off that I can do today, always ticking off my bucket list—yes, I made a bucket list three months after my tragedy, not realizing at the time that this was as a result of collateral beauty.

Most importantly, in processing my own grief, I have come to understand how much love, support, compassion, empathy, and understanding is needed in the world. Because let me tell you something, there’s too many people out there who are in desperate need of it. So out of my sadness came this beauty and light in the form of my drive to share with others all the hope, all the compassion, all the belief, all the empathy, all the faith, and all the inspiration that I have, to help them live a better life, to help them see a promising future.

Do you see it now? Collateral beauty holds such intrigue and hope.