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Face crisis with courage

STRONG BOND Togetherness can help during crisis

STRONG BOND Togetherness can help during crisis  

Responding to a crisis with courage and sense of meaning is not easy but it needs to be developed

A woman who was trapped in her bathroom on the night of the 2004 Tsunami disaster reported: "I walked out penniless. I figured I would go to the market place, where I used to work. Indeed to be able to keep myself busy and to give a helping hand to my husband." When asked where she got her strength, she promptly replied, "I trust in God and I believe that everything will work all right. If God wills us to die in the waves, we have no option. We can only just live the best way we can each day."

This woman responded to the crisis with courage and a sense of meaning. Everyone may not be able to mobilise themselves during crisis, and very often they become easy victims. What makes one person a survivor and another a victim depends on his or her ability to make meaning from events. For example, the woman mentioned above told herself to put all trust in God and to live the best each day to face the crises before her. Very often when these tales of courage are spread through word of mouth it can significantly influence others. The presence of a sympathetic listener encourages memory, facilitates the discovery of meaningful patterns and opens the way to acceptance and reintegration.

Drastic, dreadful, calamitous events do not happen everyday. But even in our daily, routine life so many tragic events occur that can be a traumatic experience to many. Whether it is 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the 9/11 attacks in the United States or the recent bomb blasts in London, mental experts say that, "the narrative technique can be used as a method to help recovery of the victims." They even discovered narratives to be a useful clinical intervention, a way of dealing with the sense of loss of meaning, of recovering the sense of worth and self-esteem.

Experts think it is a great achievement if one can transform a disaster into meaning, (termed as Logotherapy by Victor Frank), work, courage, independence, relationships, family and a spiritual dimension to life. Making the victims participate in what they feared, how they coped and what they valued does this. By reflecting on these guidelines and themes, survivors of any disaster can make significant, fruitful changes in their lives.

Erudite persons say that the ability to face death can lead to creativity and boldness and the only potent way to deal with fear and anxiety. Using a life-changing disaster to reassess their lives, priorities and values, one can increase the ego-strength and become very powerful. Finding ways to live with the new set of uncertainties is the challenge of human beings in this millennium.

Dr. C. P. SOMASUNDARAM

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