Successful strategies for dealing with tragedy, outlined by Robert Veninga, professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, in his book A Gift of Hope:
*Be gentle with yourself. Many people after a tragedy are overly critical of themselves, saying such things as, "If I had left the office 10 minutes earlier, I wouldn't have had a car accident." While such behavior is normal, says Veninga, it's also important to remember all the positive things you did for the victim throughout his life, rather than the one or two things you did not do.
*Remember that people do in fact survive the most excruciating experiences that life can give. Veninga cites a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine on "Psychological Status in Chronic Illness" that concluded it is a myth that patients with major illness are the most likely to emotionally self-destruct.
*Recognize that you have not lost everything: you have friends, a religious faith, or good medical care.
*Take care of yourself physically, psychologically and spiritually. "When a crisis occurs to a member of your family, you can become so preoccupied with his problem that you cease to take care of yourself," Veninga says.
And if a victim doesn't have the will to employ these strategies?
"If your own resources have been depleted to the point where you cannot motivate yourself, then the only answer is professional help," says Veninga.