I got an email overnight from my long-time friend Louise who grew up next door to me in Melbourne.
This year she married a Samoan and they both live on the island of Upolu. She told me how their world had changed since the tremors woke them at 7am Tuesday, shaking the walls of their house and sending their dog into a crazy barking frenzy (well the dog was always pretty crazy to start with, I reckon).
They’ve been really lucky. Their own house withstood the shuddering and all of their many family members are safe, despite only being halfway up the cliff when the wave roared through.
Louise said: “the whole village is doing an amazing job with the clean up and should be able to start rebuilding in coming weeks.”
Not everyone was so fortunate. Many in Samoa have lost family members and seen their whole village - huts, crops, schools, churches - washed away.
And even this devastation pales into insignificance when compared to the scale of loss visited upon the people of Padang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where the death toll from this week’s earthquakes continues to climb.
These big disasters have been getting worldwide attention and offers of help are pouring in. But once the TV crews have packed up and left, the phones have stopped ringing and the initial shock wears off, then what?
How do you pick up the pieces when you’ve lost everything?
Doesn’t it amaze you just how strong human beings are, when we’re pushed to our limits? Or do you think our emotions make us vulnerable and fragile, buffeted painfully by life’s highs and lows? Are some people naturally better at coping with adversity than others?
I’d love to hear from you on this. Have you been in a situation where you lost everything – whether it’s a relationship, a property, or a loved one? What was it that pulled you through? Friends? Therapy? Religion? And what about children — are they naturally more resilient? Or more likely to be scarred for life?
How do we bounce back when things have gone very, very wrong?
- Amy, WHYS producer