Making peace with tragedy

Haleigh McGill

Haleigh McGill
Haleigh McGill

Tragedy never strikes when it’s convenient, or when you don’t already have a million other important things to think about and accomplish.

Whether the event makes international headlines and triggers a collective sadness, like the crash of Germanwings flight 9525 or the Charlie Hedbo shootings, or you are going through a personal tragedy on your own, the devastation can be tough to make peace with.


Speaking out about the Germanwings crash and empathizing with those who are now dealing with the nature of loss, Thomas Winkelman, spokesman for the Germanwings Executive board said, “Our focus in these darkest hours is to provide psychological assistance to the families and friends of the victims of flight 4U9525.”

There are moments of inevitable breakdowns that sometimes leave you screaming at God, the universe, an empty void or whatever force you believe has a say in what happens to you or to this world. One of the hardest parts to accept is the fact that you can’t stay angry forever. You can’t let tragedy drain your life of color and wonder and gratitude, while you sit around sad and passive, becoming somewhat of a tragedy yourself. Grieving is normal, and accepting whatever has happened takes time and often solitude. However, you can’t let it take forever.

Tragedy doesn’t go easy or play fair. It just hits you, and you’ve got to find a way to hit back, even if your eyes are stinging and your patience is wearing thin. I do believe there is a reason for everything, though some of them we learn right away, many don’t reveal themselves until later, and quite a few reasons never seem to come around at all. In an article from, three trauma specialists give advice on how to make peace and deal with what has happened.

“Isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone. …  It’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need.”

(Image uploaded to
(Image uploaded to

The greatest thing you can do when going through a tragedy is to give yourself permission to move on. Instead of wasting time questioning the past and what has already happened to no avail, spend your time thinking about how your future can be positively impacted by the incident. How can I help myself to accept what’s happened?  How can I learn to let go of the anger? How can I draw strength from sorrow and once again rise to the occasion that is my life?

A blog entry posted to Awakening The Phoenix says, “We must accept (tragedy) as part of our collective human experience.  But, fortunately for us, the story does not stop here.  There is more than a dark endless rising.  There is more than a villain and a savior.  There is more than what we are shown in the external world.  There is more inside.”

That’s exactly my point: We have an incredible amount of inner strength, although sometimes it’s difficult to tap into. We are resilient beings, resilient souls, and if we’re brave enough to accept the pain we do eventually rise again.

Collegian Assistant Opinion Editor Haleigh McGill can be reached at, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.