When youths "break up" with their first love and then mope around, maybe even consider suicide, these singles are said to be suffering from a broken heart. When parents lose a child and then become immobilized until they die, these people are thought to have died of a broken heart.
Such images of poorly functioning people conflict with the notion of Healthy Survivors who act effectively and pursue happiness. Surely a broken heart gets in the way of healing. Well, it certainly can.
In Wiesel's case, surviving unimaginable hardship and loss in Auschwitz and Buchenwald led to clarifying self-awareness and sense of purpose that has enriched his relationships with people and with God. Forever after, he has savored each of life's joys because he refused to forget his pain.
Wiesel's comment highlights a paradox of broken-ness and wholeness: Relationships -- whether between a person and another person or between a person and God -- can become more authentic, resilient and joy-filled when tested by stress, hardship, misunderstanding, injustice or loss.
Healthy Survivors can use unwanted pain and loss -- broken-ness -- in life-enhancing ways. As I say in "View from Remission": "Even unpleasant times are less painful, for they are proof that I am still here."