You Too Can Survive Disaster

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Disasters assault you at the most unexpected moments. They arrive without warning, leave the victims comfortless and lives shattered. There is no second chance in the midst of disaster, just total devastation.

Whether it is death, divorce, illness, fires, or acts of terrorism, the agony that is cause has a common aspect. It hurts!! So how do we survive so much pain?

In the initial stages you are overpowered by the anesthetizing state of shock and utter disbelief, where the fullness of the reality is unable to register. This is the body’s way of coping. If the fullness hit home immediately, no one would survive!

Then comes the roller coaster ride of a concoction of disbelief, anger, guilt and a whole range of sentiments, which has your world spiraling like a runaway jet.

This is the time you need you need to give yourself some small breathing space to attend to your wounds and wait for a small ray of the healing process to commence, through an unhindered expression of your grief. For even though you don’t believe it now, over time you will heal. The fact is life will continue and you will have no choice but to keep on going for where there is life there is hope. Yes, you may have lost an entire way of life, a loved one, or good friends, but you are still living. Your heart is still pumping and your body demands you take care of it.

Time and again disasters have proven to be periods of opportunity. Opportunity that shows up the community spirit, as has been seen by the response to the catastrophic bush fires that have desolated the southern part of Australia. Opportunities for the humblest individual in society to become a champion. Opportunities for people to extend a helping hand to others they have never even met. Opportunities to reveal a true expression of empathy towards the sufferers. Opportunities to let others reach out to you. Being of use to others is often the best and most healing road you can choose, even if it is only in the way of giving a comforting shoulder for someone to cry on.

It is often in times of disasters, you come face to face with your fears, in living three-d. Fears that plague you in the still small hours of the morning, when life is at its lowest point. Nightmares that are finally brought out into the open. However, you will usually find the reality easier to cope with that the haunting fears of \”What if..?\’\’

Disasters bring you to the realization that life is unpredictable and you are forced to deal with situations you did not anticipate. Disasters that turn you into refugees. People who must fashion a different way of life. People who know what it is to lose everything. No matter what you feel like, you simply can’t lie down and die when disaster disintegrates your life.

It is not an option to sit and indulge in a self-pity party. Feeling sorry for yourself hurts only you. Disasters are the time when you need to reach deep inside yourself, to reveal strengths you never imagined you had.

The key to surviving is that you have to become a realist and an optimist at the same time, as life-destroying circumstances change you forever. You will come out the other side a different person.

Disaster divides your life into before and after the tragedy. You will never look at even the simple things of life in the same way. Yet, the end of one thing is always the beginning of another, for it has been proven that human nature will rise, just as out of the ashes the phantom phoenix rises anew.

How then are you to live through the grief of disaster? You look back and learn the lessons from the past, but more importantly you look forward and take one small step. The tallest mountains in the world were conquered one tiny step at a time. You can do it too. You can take the next step, no matter how painful. Let the future and the big things take care of themselves. Just make the decision to survive through today.

Rick and Wendy are CEO’s of YouMe Support Foundation charity that gives away non repayable high school education grants to children who will never have the opportunity to have a high school education without outside assistance.