Avoid the Quagmire
Grief is an intensely personal process. Its timeline is not linear; it's more like a roller coaster. Just when you feel like you're coming out of it, the next day you're worse than you ever thought you would be. A week later, you may feel optimistic again. Still, it's really important not to get stuck—and you know you're stuck when you don't want to live anymore. That was my goal: I just didn't want to be stuck. I didn't want there to be two tragedies. I didn't want Fernando to have lost his life or waste the rest of mine because he was no longer there.
One thing that helped me—and I shared it with a mother who lost her 9-year-old son, on The Oprah Show—was to not give dates or anniversaries power. A lot of people can't deal with those times, and it's all right to be sad. You might also wake up on that anniversary and be fine. And that's absolutely okay too. Let your feelings come when they want to and you won't have to live in fear 364 days a year.
Find Your Ultimate Question
Since the tsunami, I've defined everything by my ability to survive. Because of that, I'm always asking myself the ultimate question: Can I survive or can't I? From business to breakups, it's helped me gain perspective. In tough situations, I can say, "Okay, this is a really shitty moment right now, but where is this in comparison to what I've gone through in the past?" Knowing that I survived something so many people didn't makes accepting the world on the world's terms a little easier.
As told to Joan Podrazik
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