What To Do When Tragedy Hits Your Home!

What To Do When Tragedy Hits Your Home!

November 23, 2014 0 By April Kirkwood

Before you pass on this blog,

Know this:

Every human being on the planet experiences heartache.


  You don’t know where or how you got it, but for some unexplainable reason, you find yourself singled out as the rest of the world whizzes along while you lie flat on your back unable to move waiting for this unwelcome guest to leave.

Has something terrible knocked on your door, sat down, and decided to stay for a visit?

It has happened to me and almost everyone else I know, though the form or events may vary; the end result is most always the same:  GRIEF and LOSS.

For some it was the career that never took off. For others the marriage went soil. He cheated or became an alcoholic. Or the worst, one of your babies grew up and died of a drug overdose or in a car crash.

These are just some of the events when sorrow swallows up our very core pulling apart all of the threads that once kept our lives in some order now cut lying on the floor in what seems like a pile of nothingness. It is when the worst possible scenario is played out in front of our faces and we feel all is lost and hopeless that we are introduced to this uncomfortable emotion called ‘heartache.’


The Worst Thing you can do with heartache!

When you fight too hard it’s like hitting your head against the wall. Ignoring this pain and loss just makes everything worse. When we ignore, suppress, and deny pain, it digs in deeper growing like a cancer until we become incapable of moving, thinking, feeling.  

Here’s what I’ve found that has helped me through my dark nights of the soul.  Oh, yes, I’ve had a few.  You’d think I’d get used to it by now, but it’s never easy.

What to Do when tragedy comes to your house:

Grieving Man in Cemetery

1. When the sorrow knocks, OPEN the door.

 It will be of no use to ignore the knocks.  He will just stay there until you acknowledge he is now with you. There is no where to hide.  He is here for you ringing the bell continuously over and over.

Example: I once knew a family who said their daughter died in a car accident when in truth, it was an overdose.  This kind of lie does nothing for anyone.  In fact, it is counter productive to healing of any kind.

2.  INVITE Heartache in.

Sit with the facts.  Your life has been changed in an instant.  “Normal” is gone.  Nothing will never be the same again.

Don’t tell your children Daddy went on a long trip if he walked out to be with his secretary.  Don’t delay the truth. However, don’t sugar coat it or go through all of the nasty details. Remember:


  1.  Children already know the truth.
  2. Kids need you to be appropriately authentic depending upon their ages.
  3. Little ones need to know they can trust you and you are honest, it’s not their faults, and you aren’t leaving as well.

3.  Let tragedy understand and fully grasp how you feel about this surprise visit. 

     Share your feelings. I knew that my Mother had an extended terminal illness, but it was still a shock to my system when the inevitable happened and she died.  Why?  I don’t know.  With all of my faith in the soul, eternity, and after-life, I was still frozen and distraught over her passing. Maybe because good-byes are hard even with all of the self-talk, introspection, and planning. For me any way, Good-byes suck.

This is where you share frankly with tragedy as he sits by your bedside:

Cry. Sob. Sleep, shout, scream.  Let him guide you through the sporadic, chaotic emotions that come and go with this loss. It’s natural.

For example, tell him how mad you are at Mom, how you feel abandoned, lost, numb, and angry. Don’t try to figure out why.  Don’t force yourself to keep moving. Don’t try to remove the pain. Express yourself.

4.  Let him spend time with you.


This is the time to step back.  Remove yourself from the world if necessary.  Forget the make-up, the holiday around the corner, the chores that now seem senseless.  Give him time to BE present with you.

My experience is that when tragedy checks in he doesn’t leave right away.  He just likes to hang around as long as you need.


In a world of quick fixes, and immediate gratification, our generation doesn’t like this.  We would much rather take a pill, a drink, a trip, or whatever to dull the pain and keep moving. WRONG.

Be Still.  Do nothing.

5.   Introduce Heartache to your dearest friends and let them meet him. 


Tragedy is a social being and knows that he alone cannot support all you are going through. He warmly welcomes others into your group.

KEY: Find others who are empathetic, kind, and listen with an open heart without judging your darkest most contemptuous thoughts, your guilt, your rage.

6.  When he is ready to leave, ask him how you can move on. He can’t stay for ever, and now you must go it alone.


1. Know grief is a process not a single event.

2.  There is no exact time table for grieving.

3.  Grieving is a natural part of loss.

4.  These feelings will come and go sometimes quite out of the blue.

5.  There will be a NEW NORMAL but life will never be the same.

6.  It’s OK to need time, rest, quiet.

 Sending you love as always,



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