Here is your Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance Foundation,
reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of traumatic
loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written and
copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D., and distributed by the Family
Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., www.fafonline.org.
Reprint is available with written permission from the Foundation. If the formatting of
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Starting the New Year with Purpose
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are
we busy about?”
– Henry David Thoreau, American Author (1817-1862)
Since the Foundation began in 2000, our staff has sent cards of remembrance to
families on the anniversary date of their loved one’s death. Many of these family
members are the very ones whose stories have shaped our work as care and
special assistance team leaders and responders. During the past year, more than
a couple of these cards were returned with no forwarding address. These cards
that were no longer deliverable due to death of the addressee, along with other
reports about family members in our research who have died brings sadness to all
of our team—and serves as a reminder of the brevity of life.
In this last Wednesday Wisdom article for 2018, we challenge our readers to
consider their goals for 2019 carefully. As the opening quote reminds us, it is
easy to stay busy, and later question what we accomplished in the previous year.
What we know about the families and other survivors who have taken time to tell
us their stories and share about their experiences following a crisis, is that their
sole purpose for sharing with us has been to shape responses to future
tragedies. We would like to believe that we assisted these deceased family
survivors in meeting their goals as we helped them share their stories with
you, who train others.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest
of the world."
-John Muir, Scottish Naturalist (1836-1914)
While the loss of each person and every family’s story has nuances that are
unique, their desire to help someone else is the main reason we have been able
to meet so many survivors over the years. This theme of survivors wanting to
help others as part of the healing process goes hand-in-hand with what most say
they learned from their losses. Compassion is the number one answer survivors
give when asked about their most important lesson learned. One mother whose
child was the captain of an airliner where over one hundred people perished in a
crash in the 1990s shared with me, "I once avoided any parent who had lost a
child. After the crash, I now go out of my way to meet parents whose children
have died. I want them to know that I understand their loss and their pain."
Finding our passion often comes at unexpected times and usually not by choice.
Finding a way to work with a human need that profoundly moves us can cause
us to spend our time in a more meaningful way—another crucial lesson
learned by survivors.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
-Helen Keller, American Author (1880-1968)
Those in leadership positions have the unique opportunity to work with their team
members to create New Year’s goals for the group, with a collective purpose,
creating a more significant outcome than anything accomplished alone. In
The Aquarian Conspiracy, (1980) author Marilyn Ferguson foretold of a future for
awakened humanity. Planning and implementing effective humanitarian assistance
requires a team of people working together who are committed to delivering the
highest and best response to survivors. To use Marilyn’s teachings—creating
improvements for humanity is accomplished best by those who conspire together.
To breathe together is the literal meaning of the word conspire. In the 1970s while
researching about the brain and consciousness, Marilyn was deeply impressed by
scientific findings demonstrating human capacities well beyond the idea of
“the norm.” Individuals and groups were being drawn together from multiple
disciplines and backgrounds, previously unrelated and unknown to one another.
The more Marilyn studied the people and their findings the more she was
convinced that the prophecy of the French scientist, philosopher, and priest,
Pierre Teilhard Desjardin was true. Desjardin foresaw the coming of a conspiracy
of men and women whose new perspective would trigger a contagion of change.
At the Foundation we look forward to a New Year and the privilege of conspiring
together with survivors, friends, and colleagues as we collectively continue on
our path of creating the compassionate world we want those coming behind us
to experience. From all of us, we wish you and your family a peaceful, kind,
and loving holiday.
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Aviem & Family Assistance Foundation
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