Linda Nash

Linda Nash

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Personal Resilience
Bouncing Back from Tragedy

The events of Sept 11th in New York City will leave an imprint on each of us for the rest of our lives. As many of you, I made frantic calls to check on family and friends in harms way. They were safe but many of their friends weren't. I listened as they shared their fears, their hope, their pain - and then returned to sit stunned in front of the TV set in disbelief watching, hoping, and feeling powerless and numb as events unfolded.

If any of us could we would undo this tragic and unspeakable horror. We cannot. What we must do is tap our reservoir of resilience that is always there.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from any setback, change, challenge, or in this case, horror, in life. It is more than surviving, it is thriving. It is dealing with whatever happens and returning to a place of joy and happiness. So how do you do this when the pain is so great?

1.  Mourn the loss

Cry, talk about it with friends and share your feelings honestly. Even those of us who have no direct loss sense a loss of family -of security - of the way things were. It has been shocking, abrupt, and life changing. The world as we knew it is no more.

It will take time to heal-to grieve. Sometimes the pain comes in waves. You'll feel fine for a day or two and overcome the next. This is a normal process. Rituals can help. Candle vigils, religious services, or any other form of group or formal remembrance. We have many memorial services in our future. These are the times to honor our dead and say a final goodbye. Each will help to cleanse our wounds and allow healing to begin.

If you feel the need, talk with a grief counselor. Get your feelings out. If you have losses from the past which you have not mourned those feeling may surface as well. Get help and support. Don't try to "tough it out" alone.

2.  Recognize that things will be better even though it may take time.

Overwhelming grief and life changing events can shut us down. Our view is to the next few minutes or hours - not to the future. Even in your pain or fear, know that things will get better, you will heal, and you will go on. Be gentle with yourself. Healing is a process - it is gradual.

3.  Take control of what you can.

You may feel powerless. You can't control what happened - you can't fix it - you can't turn back the clock. Your world has changed without asking your permission. To the extent you take control you will reduce your stress and powerless feelings. Take control of what you can. Send a card, listen to someone who is grieving, take him/her food, hold a hand, give blood, attend a religious service, or assist in any way you can. Process your emotions but don't allow them to take total control. Do something. I'm writing this. What can you do?

4.  Commit to resuming your daily routine as much as possible - as soon as possible.

Don't expect to go full speed back to normal. You may feel unusually tired or listless. Do what you can to regain your balance and take on usual tasks. Eat properly, take a walk, visit friends, go to work and focus your thoughts.

5.  Continue to look for the good, the wondrous, the joyful in life.

It's all around you - even now. There have been acts of heroism, generosity and caring. People come together in mutual grief. This is a time of reflection on what is truly of value to us. This is a time to reflect on the joy and goodness in your life. Hug your family - your friends. Value your relationships, the greatness of your life and the freedom of the United States, flaws and all.

Resilience is like a bank account. Every day we make deposits or withdrawals. If you have made enough deposits of joy, happiness, love, belief in and responsibility for yourself, you have plenty to draw on in times of need. Even in these tragic days -keep making deposits even if they're small. As individuals and a nation we are resilient - we will bounce back to an even higher level than before.

Linda Nash
Linda Nash is a nationally recognized consultant, speaker and author in the areas of change and resilience. To receive her free E-zine Bouncing Back go to  To contact Linda call
314.872.8787 or e-mail

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Copyright 2000 by Linda Nash. All rights reserved. You may not reproduce this material without explicit prior written permission.