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Health and Fitness
Four Ways to Survive Complete Devastation
By Stacey J. Miller 
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Jan 6, 2008, 09:46

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If you experience a tragedy -- your spouse dies or walks out of a marriage, or you are faced with a life threatening disease – you will embark on an emotiional journey that is like no other experience you have ever had. For a long time, you will not know how or where it started, whom to blame for it, or where it will end. Here’s what you can do in the first hours of such a devastating journey:

1. Stay in the moment. Don’t think of the future, because you don’t have enough information to make any decisions. Avoid listening to others who try to pressure you into making immediate choices. Instead, ask yourself what can you do right now, at this moment.

2. Stay relaxed. Panic and anger destroy your ability to think straight, and there is plenty of time for anger later on. The key question is, what can you do now to make this bearable?

3. Find support. If you are alone, pick up the phone and call a friend or a family member. You need someone who can hold your hand, and someone who can sit with you. This person can either listen to you or just sit with you in silence if you don’t have the energy to talk. Crying, which is easier than talking, can be the beginning of healing.

4. Find professional help. Make the phone call to a doctor, lawyer, or therapist. No matter how hard this is to do, it is better than sitting and thinking about what has happened.

This sounds overwhelming, and it can be. Your self image is being threatened by the tragedy. You’re asking questions like: What did I do in my marriage that went so wrong? What is wrong with me? Why was my spouse taken away so tragically? What did I do wrong to deserve this illness?

Realize that this event had nothing to do with you. Calamities happen to all of us. Try to remember that it is out of heartache that we find an inner strength and the talents to come through whatever happens to us. In the end, these events make us stronger. It takes time, but one day, you will wake up, and the tragedy will not be the first thing you think about. Life will return and, along with it, the love of life.

Sue Miller is the author of "I'm Tougher Than I Look" (Williams Cohen Press 2006). You can visit her website at:

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