When Tragedy and Grief Devastate You, What Do You Do?

old wooden gate_brick and stucco arch_sunlight peeking thruNo one expects a tragedy.  Yet, tragedies strike, seemingly out of nowhere, and they’re devastating.

Last week brought terror and heartache to people across our country, but our collective pain and grief are only a shadow of the pain and grief felt by victims whose lives were directly touched by the tragedies in Boston, MA and West, TX.  My heart aches for each of these people and their families … for the way their lives have been forever changed and for the unbelievable pain they face over the next weeks, months, and years as they work through their grief and learn to accept (and adjust to) the changes inflicted on their lives because of their losses.  When tragedy and grief devastate you, what do you do?

I watched videos of the events as they unfolded, and read news accounts of people who were injured or killed, and I couldn’t help but think that these events being reported were about more than news stories.  These reports reflected life stories of each person involved.  This news wasn’t about statistics, or theories, or philosophies, or abstract ideas.  This ‘news’ was and is about real individuals—each and every one.  It’s about real tears.  It’s about mothers, fathers, parents, children, and friends who have real, individual names.  It’s about their feelings.  Each person now faces the challenges of his or her new reality, along with the need (which may be unrecognized at first) to understand grief, so their healing is possible.

Tragedy Changes Your World
Instantly, tragedy changes your world.  You’ll be stunned, over and over, at the way everything completely changes from one instant to the next.  The transition from life to death happens in an instant.  If you’ve ever been with someone when they die, you know.  Such changes are nearly impossible to comprehend.

Grief touches all parts of you—and affects you emotionally, physically, mentally, relationally and spiritually.  Grief’s effects reach into all parts of your life in ways you never expected until you face it yourself.

Unbelievable and overwhelming things happen that test your resolve and shock you to the core.  You wonder if life can get any tougher than this.  How do you keep on going after confronting a heartbreaking, traumatic, unexpected turn of events?  What makes the difference between giving up and fighting on?

We are human beings, not superhuman beings, and our emotions run deep.  Life is about relationships, and when we care deeply, we do not just shake off a tragedy and keep right on going as before.  Your first inclination may be to strike back, to get angry, to question why this awful thing happened to you.  You may wonder how in the world you can go on.  As first reactions, none of these feelings are unexpected.  However, for your own sake and for your loved ones, please don’t allow yourself to dwell on these initial responses.  Don’t stay there.

Planting a Seed
I believe with my whole heart that if you plant a seed in your mind early on that you will do whatever you have to do to work through your grief and not allow your tragedy to make you bitter—you will gain the strength to keep on pulling yourself up and facing your loss straight on.  Will you waver?  Most likely.  When you’re exhausted, sad, and discouraged, you’ll probably stumble.  But instead of staying down, you’ll remember where you want to go—and why—and this resolve will help you to carry on.  I remember the exact place and time when I made my decision, and I’m convinced this early decision kept me going when I was tempted to give up … and even when I wanted to give up.  I believe the same will be true for you.

My heart breaks for each and every victim of these horrific tragedies.  One was an accident.  The pain is every bit as strong and real for the victims in Texas—yet the bombings in Boston were planned.  The killing and maiming didn’t have to happen.  I cannot imagine having so much hatred in your heart that you callously and indifferently disrespect the lives of innocent human beings and willfully hurt them.  I’m so sad that there are people in the world who feel this way.  It’s hard to understand those feelings.

But we live in an incredible country here in America.  When tragic things happen, and times get especially rough, our people pull together, stand together, and help one another.  We pray for each other.  And we help in tangible ways.  Thank God!  Thank God for this priceless blessing.

Hope for Your Future
Tony Robbins made a statement that directly relates to the importance of your decisions about how you’ll cope with loss.  Robbins said, “Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.”

Tragedy and grief are devastating.  But they don’t have to get the best of you.  There is a way through.  Don’t try to go through grief all by yourself.  Allow people you trust to help you.  And never underestimate the importance of your mindset.  Your life can be good again.

You can work your way through grief.  Believe you can …

© 2013 Judy Brizendine

Related articles:
•  Letting Love Win:  Coping with Fear, Anger, Grief and Despair in the Wake of Tragedy
•  When Grief Seems Insignificant by Comparison





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6 Responses to “When Tragedy and Grief Devastate You, What Do You Do?”

  1. Wise words, and beautifully stated, Judy. Thank you for this! ♥

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much for reading the article–and for your kind words. I so respect you and your work, and your words mean more to me than you can know.

  2. Terrific article, Judy. Wonderful advice on ways of moving forward after tragedy strikes. I really enjoy your articles!

  3. Terrific article, Judy. You offer wonderful insights and advice on what to do after tragedy strikes. I always enjoy your articles!

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much, Randy, for stopping by to read my blog–and I appreciate your kind words of encouragement! I’m really glad you’ve found value in the articles.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your ongoing support, Randy, and for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoy the articles and find value in them.