Learning To Turn Tragedy Into Positive Life Lessons

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog

Photo by Angie Rubin

I was recently reading about Hugh Herr, chief technology officer at iWalk, a company specialized in bionic prosthetics.

Dr. Hugh Herr is a below the knee double-amputee.  When he was a teenager, while mountain climbing, he got stuck with others in extreme cold conditions and had to have his lower limbs amputated to stop necropsy from spreading to his whole body.

One of the questions posed to him in the interview was; if he could have his legs back would he want them?  His answer was an emphatic no.  He explained that being a double-amputee is his identity and what has propelled his life and work.  Would he have dedicated his life to creating these amazing bionic prosthetics if he wasn’t an amputee himself?  Would he see life as he does today if not for the sum of his experiences?

I thought about how significant it is what he said.  What had been a tragedy when it happened was what made him understand and undertake his life in a completely different way.

Often when tragic things happen to us we get stuck in feelings of pity, anger and resentment and we don’t see past the pain.  We kick and scream and eventually give up living a life of contentment.

When my husband passed away, I kept thinking there had to be something positive to come out of the greatest loss I had ever experienced.  It was impossible for me to conceive that out of the love we had, all it would be left was pain alone.  I knew there was no reason for it to have happened, but there had to be something to be gained.  And so I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and I learned and changed.

Of course, if I could have my husband back I would in a second.  But, that is not possible.  And so I’m left with the positive self-transformation his loss allowed me to undergo.  Today, I believe I’m a more compassionate and have a greater understanding of life’s lessons.

When tragedy strikes we must have the courage to accept and embrace the doors that close and the doors that open.  We must learn to move on. Who knows where we’ll end up?


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