How to Surf a Tsunami

Many of us will face a personal tsunami at some point in our lives. We will be felled by a great wave bringing with it sudden change and loss. Perhaps your tsunami is in the form of the death of a loved one, maybe it is the loss of a job or a way of life or possibly you have lost the health you took for granted. My own tsunami was in the form of an unexpected divorce after being abandoned via a text message.

Regardless of the nature of your abrupt trauma, tsunamis have some common characteristics. By their nature, tsunamis are difficult to predict and even harder to prepare for. You have to face the realization that you cannot control your surroundings. The world that you knew is gone, swept away in a single move. You feel disoriented as you try to navigate this new realm.

Soon after the trauma, it feels like it will be impossible to rebuild. The odds seem insurmountable. The shock and grief permeate everything and make every move a struggle. Restoration after a sudden trauma is not easy, but it is possible. In fact, you can even learn how to surf your tsunami, moving through it with skill and grace.

The following are my healing tips for anyone who has been flattened by a tsunami.


The blow of sudden trauma is physical. The body tenses as if anticipating another blow. The breath is the first to suffer; it becomes shallow and rapid behind a breast wrapped tight in a straightjacket of sorrow. Release it. It won’t be easy and it won’t be automatic, at least in the beginning. Set a reminder on your phone or computer to take several deep breaths at least once an hour. As long as the body is anticipating another blow, the mind will be as well. Sometimes it’s easier to train the body and allow the mind to follow.

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Thank you for sharing!

7 thoughts on “How to Surf a Tsunami

  1. Lisa, as I am in the midst of my own tsunami, I thank you for writing this and sharing this. My best to you and yours!

  2. Thank you! My personal tsunami recently hit me when a couple of ‘friends’ judged and convicted me without so much as asking me to clarify a comment or action. I am learning to breathe…

  3. lynette – Working my way through the transitions that come with midlife, learning to march to my own true rhythm, and searching for peace, love, connection, and happiness.
    lynette says:

    Thank you. Today, reading this, I feel understood.

  4. elizabeth2560 – ABOUT ALMOST SPRING Two and a half years ago my 37 year marriage ended suddenly through no choice of my own. I survived the heartache. I have taken control of my present. I am planning my own destiny, which is moving onwards to a life of purpose and meaning. This is my journey.
    elizabeth2560 says:

    One of the hardest parts for me in the beginning was that everyone else was ‘over there’ living normally, and I was ‘over here’ dealing with this calamity, on what seemed like the fringes of life. It seemed impossible that I would ever get back to that simple feeling of ‘normal’. Some of the strategies you mention would help to get back that sense of normality.

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