Overcoming Tragedy

Margit Cathrine Moller

The first half of 2011 was filled with news about tragedy - from floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires to manmade tragic events such as the political turmoil in the some countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Even the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death reminds the world of the tragedy that happened ten years ago.

When tragedy happens, nobody is prepared, in the same way that no one can truly prepare for a disaster. However, it is best to equip ourselves with internal tools and right information so that when tragedy strikes, we will not be at a loss.

1. Make sure that you surround yourself with positive people. These are family members and friends who can be your support group. Never go through a tragedy alone no matter how tempting it is to isolate you.

2. Crying helps. It is normal for a human being to cry as the emotions are too heavy to carry. Crying is not just a form of release of tensions; it clears your mind and helps you see things clearly. If you want to, cry with a friend around you.

3. Bring back the good memories. Looking back at the good times make you feel thankful of the times shared together. This is an effective way of putting the tragedy in the right perspective.

4. Stop the self- blaming. We are prone to blame ourselves for the tragedy that happens. There are too many “if only’s” to count. If only I did this, if only I did that. They do not help except torture you and make the tragic incident worse than it already is.

5. Go back to the usual rhythm. Your daily patterns of work, those habits, and those ways of doing the laundry will provide mechanisms to feel productive.

6. Do not set a time limit for grief. Just allow the process to proceed without setting a deadline. If the closure happens, you will know because you are ready to move on.

7. Find an outlet. Write a book. Read a lot. Go on a vacation. Go out with friends.

8. Tell stories. Share. Share. Don’t digest everything within. Find someone to talk to and share what is happening to you. It is called unloading.

9. Do not hesitate to ask for help. You will be amazed at the natural generosity of people, even strangers. Even a simple help such as doing the grocery shopping, or arranging a memorial service. Ask for help.

10. If you see signs that the burden is too much to carry. If you are tempted to commit suicide. If you are feeling depressed, seek professional help. There are grief counselors who will be honored to accompany you in this process.