How to Use Personal Hardships to Help Others

When we face adversity, we have a choice. We can give up or turn our situation into something meaningful.

Posted in , Jul 17, 2019

Finding meaning in grief

In life, there are hardships that can change us for the better—or for the worse. How we respond to adversity varies from person to person and depends on the circumstances. 

Many find a way to overcome hardship and move forward. They may even learn a lesson and grow from it. However, some people may turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their pain or allow their anger to engulf them. Some, in bitterness, seek revenge. Others turn to isolation. 

And then there are those who turn their adversity into a power for good—helping others who have suffered from a similar loss. Instead of letting their pain isolate them from others, they plunge ahead to help those who face their own pain with hope and love. 

In his book The Second Mountain, David Brooks tells the story of Sarah Adkins who went through a horrific tragedy. While she was away on a trip with her mother, her husband, who was battling depression, killed their two young sons and then himself. 

It took Sarah years to recover from this tragedy. Eventually, she found the strength to turn her pain and anger into power to help others. She started a foundation for women who can’t afford funeral and other costs when their children’s lives are taken, or when there is violence in their home. 

Sarah says, “I was going to fight back against what he tried to do to me by making a difference in the world.” Although she still lives with the pain this tragedy has caused, she has used it to help others who go through similar hardships. Thankfully, most of us will never face such an adversity as Sarah’s, but we can all learn from her how to use tragic situations to help others

Recently, a colleague of mine shared how one of her teen children, who was diagnosed with a heart condition, feels empowered by taking part in a medical test that may help others in the future. This is her teenager’s way of turning illness into a power for good. She refuses to feel defeated by illness even though there are days that she is exhausted by her condition. 

When we face hardship, it is up to us to not allow circumstances to take control but to grow from them and possibly help others. This is a choice we must all make. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel pain, anger or frustration, but it’s finding the courage to reclaim our power and grow from the experience.  

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