Picking up the pieces

samoa photoI  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. 

People in the Philippines and Vietnam have also suffered this week.  It’s all pretty awful.

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 pic– Amy, WHYS producer

8 Responses to “Picking up the pieces”

  1. 1 Lee
    October 3, 2009 at 14:41

    We have listened to BBC many years now and find many of the programs thought provoking and very informative. The one thing we have noted, however, is that you seem to lean toward covering evolution, global warming/climate change as givens rather than offering a legitimate voice from those who don’t find they can totally agree with these positions. The only time we heard anyone be questioned about the ice bore evidence that would refute the current line, the question was never answered. So, we feel that you’re generally unbalanced in your presentations.

  2. 2 Emile Barre
    October 3, 2009 at 15:18

    My total sympathy for the victims.

  3. 3 Adam
    October 4, 2009 at 01:03

    My heart goes out to those that are suffering in the Pacific. I can only hope Indonesia receive aid as well as Samoa being it is tied more closely to the U.S. Perhaps a new philosophy on building and appropriate building habits are in order upon rebulding…i hope that is in the aid package

  4. 4 T
    October 5, 2009 at 02:31

    Because of an ongoing health problem, I’ve lost a lot (family, many friends, several jobs). I’ve been homeless twice. If my current health insurance firm found out about this, they could cancel my policy (a “pre-exisitng” condition).

    Sometimes there’s a bit of clarity. Sometimes terror that almost paralyzes you. I’m told I’m need to get help. Yet, it feels like society won’t admit that I exist. But I keep going because what else can I do?

    Sorry for the long post.

  5. 5 Dennis Junior
    October 5, 2009 at 12:55

    My sympathy and prayers are being extended to all…Affected by the situation in country….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  6. 6 patti in cape coral
    October 5, 2009 at 13:18

    Yes I’ve been in a position where I lost everything, and my children are what pulled me through. You can’t wallow in your own grief or let fear paralyze you when you have your little ones depending on you.

  7. 7 Tom K in Mpls
    October 5, 2009 at 15:58

    Life isn’t fair. I hope it never will be. Now, what matters is not if they will rebuild. Of course they will. They are alive, that is what you do. The real question is, how will they rebuild. In the US and Japan, there have been many disasters. The effect and causes get analyzed and new laws are created and new policies adapted.

    This is how countries become rich. It is not so much finding the ‘golden egg’, it is by eliminating all things that take what you have.

  8. 8 nora
    October 5, 2009 at 16:12

    Suddenly you are cut loose from the map of home in your brain. No getting up and silently going to a cabinet in the dark for the tea cannister. No kettle, no fire. But there is your heartbeat, your breath, blue jays fighting, crickets chirping. You live long enough to fall asleep. You wake up and this time you remember last evenings crickets.

    Major earthquakes rewire you. Part of your body braces for the next one. Deep breathing is the best. Humor over fear. Pacific Rimsters like Californians and Samoans prepare mentally all the time for the idea of picking up the pieces of shaken earth again. Crime is never lower than when we pick up after earthquakes. New friendships are made in the rubble.

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