How to Overcome Tragedy

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

Helen Keller

I know that there are always natural disasters, and suffering going on somewhere in the world, some definitely more devastating than others. However, because multiple hurricanes and earthquakes have hit so close together these past few weeks, I have been thinking about how someone gets through various tragedies in their lives.

Research shows that over 24,000 children around the world die every day. In the United States, 1,400 people die from cancer daily and someone dies from cardiovascular disease every 36 minutes. When the number of deaths is high from a natural disaster or war, it seems more shocking and focused on by the media. However, if one of those lost is your loved one, it is a tragedy, no matter how the loss occurred.

The definition of a tragedy is an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress. Whether or not the tragic event involves a natural disaster, ruined relationship, money problems, health challenge, death of a loved one, loss of a job or other tragedy it can devastate someone emotionally.

The significance of the loss tends to determine the intensity of the grief. Grief isn’t processed the same way by any two people, even if they share the same tragedy. Grief is processed in many different ways depending upon your personality, belief system and the life experiences you have gone through leading up to the loss.

Here are some suggestions that I have used or seen others use when grieving:

Support Group

Create a support group of family, friends and/or others who are going through the same crisis as you. You may be going through the same emotional experiences and can help each other through them. The more you talk about your loss, the more grief you can release. Sometimes you may have to ask someone just to listen and not do any talking.

Spiritual Help

Reach out to a local pastor in your church to get spiritual counsel. Offer up prayers for comfort. Read from books such as the Bible and other inspired writings that talk about people overcoming tragedy and how they did it.

Personal Care

Take care of yourself. The grieving process is mostly emotional, but can quickly become a physical problem due to insomnia, poor eating habits, stress, exhaustion, anxiety, lack of physical activity, depression etc. You may have to force yourself to eat even if you aren’t hungry. Get outside at least once a day to get some fresh air and exercise even if it’s just walking a couple of blocks in your neighborhood.


Take some time off work to focus on healing. However, don’t delay returning to work too long as it can keep you occupied and your mind off the tragedy so that you have a purpose and aren’t focusing on it all day long. Volunteer for your church our a local charity serving others that need help. Giving of your time to help others can be healing and keep your mind off yourself by thinking of others.

Be Patient

Take it one day at a time in the beginning. Grieving is not a fast process. Don’t beat yourself up if you are taking longer than others to grieve.

Be Aware of Triggers

Be aware that you will have grief triggers like birthday, anniversaries, holidays or events that trigger memories. Come up with a plan how you are going to manage them. You will never be able to forget, but hopefully be able to find acceptance and move on.


Linda and I lost our son Kenny 6 years ago when he was killed in a car accident. He was only 43 years old. As parents, you never expect to outlive your children so this was very unexpected and difficult for us. We got through it with the loving support of each other and our children. Even though this loss was devastating to our family, it brought us closer together. We now cherish each other more. When we get together we often talk of fond memories we had with Kenny.

If you are mourning the death of a loved one or going through any type of tragedy right now please reach out for help. Please know that you aren’t alone. It may not seem like you will ever smile or be happy again in the early days of grieving, but just work on getting through one day and then the next day. It is my personal hope and prayer that you will find comfort, support and peace.


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