What to do when tragedy strikes?

May 16, 2011
posted by Admin

Every day, in my office I hear words, I listen to phrases and I try to capture a section, a moment, an event of a person’s life. Not in a sensational or dramatic way, but rather in a way where I am able to break down all the various parts of a person’s interaction with a significant other or the critical timing of events in a patient’s daily life. Inevitably, in listening to all of these individual moments in any one meeting, I come up against my own uncomfortable feelings of helping a patient “face” a mini-tragedy (like losing a wallet or ring) or at times, a life-changing tragedy (like death of a family member or loss of a job). Our knees quiver and shake when we come face to face with tragedy. Of course, as the professional, the patient looks to me for answers. But, I plain and simply don’t know what to do. In short, I too feel helpless!
Our world is colored and painted with tragedy. Yet, as we go through our daily lives, we don’t expect tragedy to befall us. We often are surprised when someone is diagnosed with cancer or has a serious car accident. As we vigorously swim our way through the obstacles and problems of life, we will be forced to face tragedy. The reality is this is a natural part of being a human being! So here’s the question that begs asking: What if we were taught to slow down and develop an awareness that tragedy does exist in our world. At any one tragic moment, our bodies move into fight- flight response and our brain gets distracted and our hearts feel helpless. But what if we took that helplessness and followed it all the way out and simply just sat with it? What if we did nothing and simply decide to take a walk, breathe, pray or meditate or self-reflect? What if when tragedy struck we just sighed deeply and often. Or what if we spoke so softly to those we live with or softly and gently to ourselves. My guess is if we did these things we would open ourselves to the possibility of healing.


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