How Tragedy Can Lead Us To Find Our Passion For Life

Often a tragic death brings out the strength and passion of others

I have been involved with grief support since 2007 and have witnessed so many amazing transformations that have come from tragic deaths of loved ones.  People who have somehow found their resilience to journey through their grief and serve others.

I’ve often pondered how any of us find the strength to help others as we walk down the path of our own grief and I discovered that for many, tragedy can bring out our passion for serving others. Serving is a trait we probably always had but sometimes we are propelled to take action.

Some of these courageous givers are women like Susan Retik and Patti Quigley who were widowed following the deaths of their husbands on 9/11. These two women wondered how the widowed Afgan women were surviving their losses and they reached out half way across the world to help and in in 2003, founded the organization named “Beyond the 11th.”

Another organization that followed was “The American Widow Project” started by two young military widows whose husbands died in the Iraq war.  They now provide support to the spouses of our most recent fallen heroes through peer based support programs.

Another brave young couple Mark and Susan Lacek lost their baby girl who they named Faith and built a retreat center called “Faith’s Lodge” that offers respite and support for other families who are dealing with serious illness or death of a child.

And then there is Len and Cherylann Gengel whose 19 year old daughter Brit died in the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti while she was there on a mission trip.  Her parents vowed to continue her mission serving the poor and started a foundation called “Be Like Brit” to serve the people of Haiti.

There are many, many stories just like these where people are making a difference following their personal adversities.

How we respond to tragedy and death is as different as life itself

Don’t think that I’m suggesting to everyone who may read this article that they should start a non-profit to change the multitudes, but the true meaning of this article is to share the incredible resilience people have and the love we have to help someone else who may one day share our pain.  Often in life the best teachers are those who have experienced something and then teach it to others.

I believe we all have life experiences we can share with another person, maybe it’s just a kind word or gesture to let someone know we care.  Perhaps it’s acknowledging someone else’s loss with understanding and speaking words of comfort.  Just know we all individually have the power to make a difference for someone else.


“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” – Horace

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