Where do they go? Why does this happen? How am I ever supposed to smile again knowing this is possible?
The truth of the matter is, I am the happiest, unmedicated person I know and I have yet to find a silver-colored lining for death. End of pain and suffering? Sure. But what about those left in the wake of their catharsis? There is no end to our suffering as long as memory exists. And living without the comfort of pleasant recollections sounds equally as unappealing.
So, now what?
No one tells you the point.
You can scour the works of philosophers from Confucius to Kierkegaard and never truly comprehend the goal of living.
We are taught to live well, to live honestly, with concern for others, respect for ourselves, and to leave something behind that was not already in existence before us… And that is believable. I am willing to buy into the fact that living as best you can by making a series of decisions that seemed most good at the time is a decent way to go about things. Hell, even the good ol' Declaration qualifies that unalienable right with "pursuit of" opposed to "attainment of" and for good reason. Because I am sincerely circumspect of my preconceived belief that the point is to be happy.
Happiness is subjective.
Happiness is ephemeral and as elusive as billows of smoke. But those of us who are still here find it impossible to not, at least, attempt to engage in a high-speed chase of it. It is our right to run this thing down until it is our turn to leave friends and family with these same, unanswered questions. For if we have learned anything from our dear friend George Bailey, it is that no matter how hopeless and devoid of happiness the present may seem, our presence is the goal.
The point is to be here.
You don't have to enjoy it. You don't even have to understand it. But before the fat lady finishes up her vocal exercises, the goal was for you to come in contact with those around you. And while this may, very well, add some undue pressure onto your existence, it is as certain as death & taxes that you are the reason someone else has chosen to continue in the pursuit.