People have an amazing capacity to process what is happening to them. The context of our lives is played out in our experiences, but also in the way we think, the things that grab our attention, and the things to which we turn to help us relate to and understand our experiences. All of this adds a richness to our lives that helps us to fully experience what we are going through.
I like to think of it in terms of a movie. There are characters and the story, but without the soundtrack and cinematography, the film has much less impact.