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Am I able to say "resiliency" and "Norway" in the same sentence? I'm not so sure.

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I keep putting off writing this post. I’ve found any number of things to do rather than sit down and write. Why? Because I need to write about the tragedy in Norway.

And I don’t know what to say. Or, more accurately, as I remarked to my friend yesterday, “I’m going to write a blog post about Norway, but what the [expletive deleted] am I supposed to say?”

One man with evil intent kills almost 80 innocent people in the country and city that awards the Nobel Peace Prize. Unthinkably, most of the victims are teenagers. Children at a summer camp.

This kind of devastation has never happened to Norway. Never. Not even in WWII when about the same number of people were injured.

I’m so angry, I could spit blood. I’m so sad, I’ve felt an undercurrent of depression since last Friday. And I’m so shocked, I’ve put off writing about this because there was no way to wrap my mind around it.

How can I talk about resiliency within the magnitude of this tragedy?

Because this is what living resilient lives is all about. It’s not always pretty or romantic or heroic. A lot of times it’s messy and angry and outraged and sad and shocked. This is where you start when something awful happens; you cry and shout and pound your fists. Or you sit quietly, stunned and weeping.

And you keep going.

Two days ago, a memorial service was held at the Oslo Cathedral. The Prime Minister spoke, his voice laden with sorrow. Afterwards, the BBC interviewed one of the chief pastors at the Cathedral. “There is no way out of it,” she said, “but just to go through it.”

Like we did after 9/11, the people of Norway are instinctively practicing resiliency skills they may not have known they had. They are gathering together to comfort each other and remember the lives lost. They are filling the streets carrying white and red roses, hugging each other, talking, and sitting at flower-and-candle-filled memorial sites in stunned silence together, tears rolling down their cheeks.

They are on the first part of the resiliency road. It’s not pretty. Right now, it’s sad.

And they will make it. Together they are finding that the only way out is to go through.

Takeaway points: We often hear the word resiliency and immediately think of something heroic or romantic. Sometimes it’s just not that way. The beginning of the road can be ugly but it is a beginning.

What are your thoughts?


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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.