Overcoming Adversity

by Shara Turner, LPC, MSC, NCC, Eagala

Over this past week we were bombarded by images of an American icon doting over his beautiful daughter. Although I did not know them, each time I glance at those pictures I feel a pang of sadness in my heart as I imagine the grief one mother and wife must be enduring. Unfortunately tragedy happens every day, in every country, city, and neighborhood around the world, and images like these are another reminder of how precious and fragile life really is.

When I was 17 I lost my best friend, my father to a tragic accident. 28 years later I watched my own children mourn the loss of their father, best friend, and mentor. Both of these moments shaped the trajectory of my life in more ways than I could ever describe. I do not believe I would be the therapist, friend, or parent I am today without these experiences. Mainly because I chose to embrace the sadness and practiced daily gratitude for those relationships and all the beauty they brought to my life.

Death is a topic we often avoid, and yet it’s an inevitable part of living. So how do we move on, make sense of our grief, and find the strength to rise up and continue living? By finding a meaning and a purpose for whatever life throws our way.

In my clinical practice I often reference Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. His work in the aftermath of WWII became a trademark for overcoming adversity.  The message in a nutshell, adversity is unavoidable, the key to overcoming it is to find the meaning. At each corner of the journey we have a choice to get up and redefine our lives or to stay stuck in that space of despair. Whatever the choice realize there is always a way out with awareness, perseverance, and support from those around us.

Most importantly honor each step, each triumph, and realize the defeats are merely stepping stones along the way. No one can truly feel your pain but many can relate. Find those that are willing to hold space for you and allow whatever comes your way. With an open heart, a willing soul, and a compassionate tribe, anything is possible.