Trudging Through Tragedy to Find Hope

Holding Onto Hope Even in the Face of Tragedy

Each life holds both tragedy and abounding hope. The path you choose will define your life.

Even the smallest tragedy can increase in intensity if that is your focus.

The tragedies I have faced in life are not what define me. What makes me who I am is how I responded to adversity.

Misfortune Offers Choices

In my business life, I quickly latched onto the Pareto Principle: (Also known as the 80/20 Rule) It states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. My job was in sales. As a result, I learned quickly that 80% of my income came from 20% of my customers. These were the top 20% of the firm’s customers and the rule held strong throughout my entire career.

How could I apply this to my life? Certainly, it was no secret to anyone that the joy in my life came from my children. They provided the majority of the joy I felt in my daily life. Suddenly, I had a roadmap to both professional and personal success.

I began to concentrate on those things that brought me joy. Without thinking about it, I began to give 100% of my energy to the things that made me happiest and brought me financial stability. You see, I suddenly became aware of the fact that my life was being diminished by all those things I spent the majority of my time involved in.

What would it feel like to learn to focus on the 20%?

You have a choice. It’s impossible to fail when you begin to look at life in an 80/20 ratio. Suddenly, you begin to realize those things that drag you down and make your life miserable are not the things you need to concentrate on.

Forget about the tragedy you’ve endured and concentrate on your purpose in life.

Tragedy Breeds Negativity

You’re not the only one who thinks negatively sometimes. I’ve been there. The inability to take care of my children after the brain injury in 1979 threw me into the depths of depression. I could barely get myself to the kitchen to get a drink of water. My seven-year-old learned to fix lunch for his brother and me. In addition, he did his best to help clean the house and do the laundry.

No mother in her right mind would allow a child those types of responsibilities!

Unfortunately, I spent three long years doing everything the doctors told me to do…or rather, what not to do.

Have you had a tragedy in your life that immobilized you?

Did it seem like nothing you did would ever bring the light of joy back in your life?

It’s unfair to pretend that the tragedy of a serious illness or the death of a loved one won’t impact you dramatically. Because it will. What’s important to your sanity and well-being is to concentrate on those small things that bring you comfort. Eventually, you’ll regain your ability to find joy.

Tragedy breeds distress. Change your story.
Leave Tragedy Behind — This is Your Season of Change

Far too many of us respond to the tragedy we experience with anger.

Anger is a typical animalistic response. It comes from the “Fight or Flight” response that goes back to the beginning of life. Therefore, it’s a process that is initiated by the sympathetic nervous system every time you experience a stressful event. The hormones of the adrenal medulla contribute to this response.

This response is how men react to the missed basket in the final game of the season when their team is down by two points. And yet, a man can react with the same level of anger when he learns he’s facing a cancer diagnosis.

A woman might react with this same sense of anger when she loses a child in the second trimester. She may scream at her husband that it was all the doctor’s fault for not telling her something or her husband’s fault for making her go on that long hike on vacation.

Some of us respond to tragedy by hiding in plain sight.

This response goes back to the “Fight or Flight” response too. When they told me that my first born child would most assuredly be born brain dead, I went on with life as if nothing was wrong. On a daily basis, I smiled at all the right times. It didn’t matter where I was or who I was with, I pretended to everyone that the pregnancy was going smoothly. Does it surprise you that I hid from the terror I felt in my heart? I perfected the “Flight” response like a champion.

Have you ever responded to a major tragedy by hiding your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge your feelings?

Or, do you simply give up and allow despair to take over your life?

When you boil things down to the science behind the responses, you’ll learn to take command of the situation and honestly analyze your reactions. Since we can change our outlook when we know what to expect, the process becomes easier with each try. I used biofeedback techniques to “talk myself” above the pain and disability I experienced after the car wreck. It took three years to finally realize the narcotics they gave me for managing my pain took all the joy out of my life.

Is it easy? Absolutely, not! It’s hard work to manage your “Fight or Flight” responses to the tragedy you face today or did in the past.

Children are defenseless in the face of personal tragedy without your help.

How a Child Responds to Tragedy

The reason I wrote the Elle Burton series is to help children find a way to talk to their parents about any potential abuse or bullying they were experiencing.

Kids aren’t like us. They experience real fear when someone threatens them. In addition, children don’t have the ability to analyze things or know who they can trust.My fear prevented me from telling anyone about my abuse as a child. Also, what seven-year-old even knows that what’s happening isn’t normal, regardless of their pain or fear?

My desire to help you in communicating appropriately with a hurting child is the reason I worked with a child counselor to develop a discussion sheet for parents to use to talk to their children after reading “Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals.” Furthermore, it’s critically important to me that parents open lines of conversation with their hurting child without having to read the book themselves. I don’t want any other child to suffer alone as I did.

Consequently, if your child is suddenly depressed or withdrawn, you should consider looking at my Parental Discussion Sheet. I asked Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Catherine Gruener to develop the discussion sheet to go with “Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals” after she read the book. I needed to make certain the questions are worded appropriately.

The Parable (Author Unknown) of the Carrot, Egg or Coffee — Which are You?

(Source: Huffington Post)


In the end, how you react to tragedy is a choice. In the end, I pray you learn to control the “Fight or Flight” instinct and learn to pursue Hope and Joy in your life.

Be Safe. Be Loved. Pass it on!

Author Peggy M. McAloon
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