Tragedy does not make an appointment. Attack! A terrifying surprise that explodes in the middle of a family. Tragedy also brings with it multiple consequences… financial disaster, depression, guilt, and guilt. Devastating fall! Marriages fall apart, family members commit suicide, personalities change. Yet tragedies happen daily. Tornadoes and earthquakes tear communities apart, as accidents claim thousands of lives and children drink poisons or drown in swimming pools. People kill their friends and family, co-workers and peers. This is what got me through a terrible time, so it should happen to you or a close friend. You have some suggestions to fall back on.

Words are not necessary: ​​a loving presence conveys support. The initial shock and denial is numb and intensely painful. When we received the terrible news of our daughter-in-law’s murder, we called our minister immediately. He and his wife came and sat with us in silence in the middle of the night. They made coffee, lived our grievance and consoled us with his presence.

Ask people you trust to handle immediate logistical issues. We had to cancel plane reservations and make new ones. Airlines offer a reduced fare for situations where bereaved families need to rush in an emergency. My brother, who travels a lot, made reservations for us. Loving friends wanted to keep our children and pets. Do not hesitate to ask or accept.

Keep inspiring reading with you. Ask your minister or a loving friend to lend you an inspirational book if necessary. I found the book of Psalms particularly helpful, as well as a book lent to me by an Al-Anon friend. Our minister mailed a wonderful book that he had written. Another minister had

comforting words about the sweet relief that comes from dying.

Keep a journal. I bought a thick spiral notebook and kept it with me. In it put information, as well as feelings, events and questions. I wrote business cards for cops and investigators and jotted down addresses of helpful strangers. My portable office became invaluable.

Buy thank you notes. Thank you notes help him focus on the love and support he receives during this painful time rather than his helplessness or loneliness. Strangers brought us food and took us to dinner. Our church sends flowers to our hotel room. Friends celebrated mass at home for our daughter-in-law. People who admired her came to see us, gave us religious paintings and bought us refreshments. I focused on building a new support system by writing immediate thank you notes. When we returned home, more consideration awaited us, including food, vitamins, and an invitation to go cherry picking (a perfect thing to do when processing a complaint).

Stay connected to home. If tragedy takes you away from home, arrange a time when you will talk daily with a calm and clear-headed family member. My brother called me at four every afternoon. I waited for his call and found comfort in his familiar voice. I took my laptop with me, which allowed me to receive loving messages by email. With my brother’s phone calls and emails, our home community was kept informed about our trauma. They arranged the necessary support as soon as we got back. The church’s “pot brigade” had food ready, gift baskets, cards and prayers. A special service at our church and a prayer service with our Marriage Encounter Group provided us with loving friends who listened and wept with us as we worked through our emotional pain. You cannot carry that load alone.

In the months that follow… Tragedies attract the media, the curious, gossips, and people intrigued by life’s dramatic events. Sometimes people who had nothing to do with the tragedy become obsessed with the details. With our tragedy, information constantly shifted, altering our perspectives and tearing at our shreds of hope. The phone calls and emails were coming from strange sources. Be careful not to answer questions from the media or give information to the wrong people.

One year may not be enough… Grief takes time. Any healing does. For us, the ongoing legal trials fester guilt, doubt, and confusion. Although life has basically returned to “normal”, my energy level has not. It seems that I achieve much less than before. Having recalled a long list of “to do” items and happily checking off task after task. Now, I mark two. (Three if I count my drill.) My focus has become a wild animal, hard to train. Yesterday, I had to write take a shower. Initially, I asked my friends to take me places as a distraction. Immediately after asking, it seemed like I was short of time to go anywhere. Time became unmanageable. I put aside my professional goals, a difficult challenge for an achiever like me. Making sales presentations and reservations no longer seemed relevant.

Even now, a year and a half later, I am still in the healing process, only now I have a deep understanding of what other people are going through.

Let go of what you didn’t do to avoid tragedy. Focus on what you can help others now. Both my husband and I have felt called to serve people in new ways. A year after the tragedy occurred, my husband was laid off from his lucrative job as a computer consultant. He wants to make a career change to teach high school. He underwent volunteer training to answer hotline phones for sexual assault and family violence. The experience has been rewarding, I’m sorry I waited until now to do this. Both activities arise from the helplessness we feel after our tragedy. Even our children respect us for accepting them. We know that our values ​​are changing.

It has been said that our tragedies make us who we are. We would agree with Corita Kent, “Flowers arise from dark moments.”

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