It’s usually somebody else’s life that’s been turned inside out. Somebody we hear or read about—or see in graphic images on TV standing in the floodwaters of a hurricane, the rubble of an earthquake, the ashes of a fire, or the aftermath of terrorism. We identify with their shock, heartbreak, and profound confusion about how to move forward. Their lives as they knew them have been lost. Forever. The rugs have been pulled out from under them, and they find themselves on new and unfamiliar paths, starting over.
But sometimes the roles are reversed. We’re the ones people are watching on the news or reading about. A tragedy or loss of some kind has befallen us or those we love. And we’re reeling, gasping for air, and grieving the unspeakable losses that happen to other people. But as the shock begins to wear off, we slowly begin to realize that it is our turn "in the soup."
Having personally experienced a rude awakening of this magnitude and having helped countless others in the aftermath of almost every kind of tragedy, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, I’ve discovered a few things that have helped other people keep moving. Use the suggestions that apply to you, without any pressure to accept what doesn't. And, in fact, let that dictate the way you receive all the advice, solicitous questions, and other gestures of kindness you'll receive during this time. Hold on to what helps you get through the day, and let the rest go.