Sunday Inspiration: Coping With Tragedy

coping with tragedy

“When you go through tragedy, you can either let it destroy you and you become bitter and never let it go, or you can let it make you stronger and let it make you grow…” -Evanescence

There has been far too much suffering in our nation these past few weeks with fires raging in the west, Hurricane Harvey reeking havoc in Southern Texas, and now Hurricane Irma devastating the Caribbean islands and on the verge of slamming into Florida (my home). I don’t yet know what’s in store for my community, but these past weeks have made me wonder, as I have before, how people who suffer through these tragedies cope. So many people have lost so much.

Having been a therapist, a minister’s wife, and a writer, I have witnessed people who actually do grow stronger (so much easier said than done) when they suffer a great loss in their lives, whether it’s the death of a loved one or a health crisis or the loss of a job or relationship or a hurricane destroying the future they thought was in store for them.

There are no easy answers for dealing with suffering. But here are some thoughts that might help.

  • Cry easily and often. There’s no way any of us can get through the grief process without actually grieving, that is letting ourselves be engulfed by the pain of our loss. It’s a scary thing to do because we’re never sure we’ll come out the other end. But we need to feel the sadness before we can let go of it. The pain means we loved what we lost, and we’ll miss it.
  • Rejoice and give thanks. Why rejoice? Because maybe things could have turned out worse — though that might be hard to believe for a while. Because there was joy in what we loved and lost and we can still remember and hold on to that feeling. Because the future can still be good and hope is waiting around the corner. It may take some time to get to this point, so patience is a necessity.
  • Connect. We can reach out to friends and family and let them give us the support we need. Cry together, laugh together. Hugging is amazingly helpful. But the greatest healer is to heal others, to help those around us in their time of crisis.
  • Rebuild. Perhaps the most difficult of all choices is to have enough hope to rebuild our lives, and to do that we need to look ahead instead of behind us. We need to adapt to our new situation and envision a new life. And then it’s time to get to work.
  • Repeat. Because life is full of loss and pain — as well as abundance and joy — we need to repeat this process over and over, growing and becoming stronger each time.

I’m still trying to learn how to cope with tragedy myself, and I predict it will take, well, a lifetime. I hope and pray that those who are suffering now will be able to cope and rebuild.


  1. Marilyn Cox on September 10, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Once again, you have helped me remember how to cope with the uncertainty of these tragedies happening all around us. My partner and I are sitting in a safe hotel in Alabama waiting for Irma to run the course. The tears and hugs help and I am passing them out on a regular basis! Thank you and be safe!

  2. Laurie Iglesias on September 10, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Great thoughts on how to cope with life’s anxieties and tragedies. Suffering abounds, but we must try not to forget the blessings. It’s hard sometimes, especially when we are the victims. Helping others is a great way to do good and to relieve some of our own pain.

  3. Lorraine Thacker on September 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you for your words of wisdom, both you and Proman! Helpful to all going through this devastation. I will hope that the loss will be less than we fear. Keeping good thoughts for all of you in harms way.

  4. Nancy Lepri on September 10, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you so much for your insightful post!

  5. Lynn Ross on September 10, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. I selfishly pray that your home and that of my former sister-in-law on Sanibel Island will be spared damage. My prayers are for all people in harms way and their homes and vehicles. If not, I join with you in urging people to feel their feelings first. As a former mentor used to say: “Feel your feelings and then reach for the vision”. God bless all.

  6. Terry Guerra on September 11, 2017 at 5:10 am

    Thank you, Emilie, for this insightful post. So glad you and Proman are safe. I am keeping your home and community in Florida, and all in harm’s way, in my thought and prayers.

  7. Donalene Poduska on September 13, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    You write such insightful words. This one was so appropriate for what our country has been experiencing. I pray for all those who are impacted. Your writing these words was such a coincidence for me. I had just finished the book for my book club to be discussed today (Sept. 13) — The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. It was a best seller in Germany for over a year and a bestseller in Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands. Perdu’s barge is a floating bookstore on the Seine; he treats his bookstore as a literary apothecary. One of our members who rarely reads the books but comes for socializing came today and announced that she had read this book twice and listened to the audio edition also! Your words were so applicable to the book I highly recommend that you and others read it — and the other members said that they would tell you the same thing. It is a beautiful book about loss and life.

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