Today is August 11th 2011 – the second anniversary of a plane crash near Kokoda that killed thirteen people, including nine Australians. One of those killed was the partner of my close friend Anne. Today Anne is in PNG for the opening of a memorial erected by the Australian Government. What is remarkable, is that Anne is also attending a fundraising dinner for the Jannie Moala Foundation, a philanthropic organisation set up in memory of the young female pilot of the plane who was also killed.
I find it humbling and inspiring that someone who has suffered so much grief is able to cope with her loss without resorting to blame, bitterness or revenge. It would be so easy, following such a senseless tragedy, to be consumed with anger towards the pilot. But Anne recognised vey early after the crash that she would need to direct her limited energy and resources into positive rather than negative channels, so she could deal with the substantial practical matters of the accident as well as her own grief, and so she could go on living a rich and satisfying life without her partner.
Unfortunately, loss, adversity and trauma are part of life. Most of the time we can’t control these events, but we can control how we react to them. Whether the adversity is a single, traumatic event such as a plane crash, whether it is self-imposed adversity (just think of how Cadel Evans rode through 3,500km to triumph in the Tour de France), or whether your adversity is more of a longer-term, relentless struggle such as conflict with a colleague, an unsatisfying job, a health challenge, the struggle of self-employment or demanding caring responsibilities.
Blaming others and feeling resentful might work as a short term emotional release, but in the longer term it stops you from moving on from adversity. Letting go of blame, and cultivating positive experiences and emotions again, will help you to bounce back and regain balance and energy for the future.