My husband Gregory James Reiter died eight years ago today, October 16, 2015, after 24 years together – rolled over by his own car, in an apparent accident that authorities could not or would not explain.
Greg had believed that everything happens for a reason – and for many years, I sought to reconcile his death with that belief he had held in life.
Eventually, this quest led me to the Aspen Institute, for a program with leading thinkers on how humans cope with catastrophe — and I asked the presenters’ thoughts on adversity as part of some master plan.
“Incredible riches in the midst of the unthinkable” may indeed emerge, one speaker replied — but we may on balance have “lost more than we’ve gained.” And we do not *find* meaning in tragedy, another added: contrary to contemporary cultural messaging, silver linings are not sitting everywhere, simply awaiting our discovery. We can, however, *create* that meaning.
I had already begun that meaning creation right after Greg’s death, though I didn’t think in those terms at the time — launching this fund for animals in his memory, which I seeded with proceeds from selling the car that killed him.
Work for animal well-being had been a shared passion for Greg and me — and the cause is increasingly urgent, as animals suffer so massively not only from wars and environmental catastrophes, but also from humans’ global demand for food, medicine, clothing, and entertainment.
And now for almost eight years, through my Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund, I have done my best to continue creating some kind of meaning from his death – doing what little I can to work against the tide of cruelty and violence toward animals around the world.