In my work as a social worker I help people and organizations deal with the aftermath of tragedies in their lives. I am always amazed at the resiliency of the human spirit. I am especially drawn to people who deal with these tragedies by throwing their energy into a good cause. Examples I have observed in my own life include: My supervisor working with a Senator to get legislation passed to require seatbelts on charter buses after losing his eldest son in a tragic bus accident; my sister in-law starting a support group and resource room at a hospital for parents who have lost a baby to a stillbirth, as she did in 1999; a gal in the news today, Wanda Butts, who lost her son in a drowning accident six years ago and started the Josh Project, a nonprofit that helps children learn how to swim. In her words, per CNN: “The joy on the faces of those children — when they see that they can learn, once they get it — they are so happy with themselves. And it’s like all of them are my children. It’s like I didn’t lose my son.” Wanda is a Top 10 CNN “Hero of the Year”. To see all the nominations, visit: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes
What all of these people seemed to have grabbed onto is the fact that to move forward they needed to get into motion and do something purposeful. For two of them it seems to have been motivated by the fact they wanted to help prevent similar tragedies from happening again; for the other it was to extend support for the journey. Whatever the motivation, they did remarkable things and we are all better for it.
Hopefully we won’t all encounter tragedy in our lives, but if we do, we have some great examples of how to cope through it!