Resilience is a word that we don’t often think about before encountering tragedy. When we see people face difficult trials and then go on to triumph, people call them resilient, but what is resilience? How would we define resilience? As I was preparing for this podcast, I thought that I should probably look up a true definition so I did just that. Merriam-Webster discusses the word resilience in this way: ‘In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material to absorb energy (such as from a blow) and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape. The recovery that occurs in this phenomenon can be viewed as analogous to a person’s ability to bounce back after a jarring setback.
Wow! That definition really blew me away. I love the visual of absorbing energy as if from a blow because that is exactly what it feels like when our child dies. It is a tremendous blow that knocks us off our feet. We fear that we will never be able to get up again. We might not be able to go on living. When we go through child loss, it feels like we receive blow after blow, again and again. That is where our resilience comes in. Even though we don’t think we will be able to go on, somehow, we do. Somehow, we get out of bed. Somehow, life continues. We are not the same by any means, but we survive as we attempt to go back to something close to our original shape.
Today, Gwen and I discuss five key areas that impact our resilience and ability to continue living after tragedy. Thinking about these different points can help as we attempt to move forward through the pain of child loss. Our resilience can assist us so that we to not simply crumple up into a ball and whither away as a result of this great blow, but that we instead retain some of our shape and release positive energy back to those around us.