Outcomes Offered

■ Knowing it isn't the event but the way we handle the event

■ Acknowledging that thoughts can determine feelings

■ Discovering that attitude can determine outcome

■ Possessing grief management skills

■ Possessing trauma management skills

Dolly and Debbie were dinosaurs. In fact, they were two very curious young dinosaurs who liked to invent new games and explore new places. They lived with a family of dinosaurs in a lush valley where there were fresh streams and plenty of food. Life was good.

One day Dolly and Debbie were exploring a cave in the hills that surrounded their valley. They crashed deeper and deeper into the cave, each encouraging the other, curious to see how far they could explore—when suddenly from outside there was a big bang. Dolly and Debbie ran toward the entrance of the cave to find that their lush valley and family of dinosaurs had disappeared. Of course, they didn't know what had happened, and it was going to be millions of years before scientists would discover that a meteorite had hit their valley and wiped out everything except for Dolly and Debbie, who had been hidden deep inside the cave.

At first, they sat in the entrance to the cave and looked out over the valley, totally stunned. They found it hard to believe. Then sadness settled on them as they became aware of their loss.

Looking across the blackened valley, Dolly was the first to speak. "This is terrible!" she said. "It is the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. How will we ever get over it?" And with that she felt even sadder.

Debbie said, "Yes, it is terrible what has happened, but isn't it good that we were exploring the cave? We are lucky to have survived. We are so fortunate." And with that thought she felt a little less sad—certainly not a lot, but maybe just a little less sad.

"Yes, but we have lost everything," said Dolly. "All our family, all our friends, all our food, all our water. . . . Our home is completely destroyed."

"Things could be worse," replied Debbie. "At least we have each other. Already the dust is beginning to settle; we can see the sky again and there might be another valley over the hills that is untouched. Maybe we can see if others have survived beyond this valley."

"I don't care about others," said Dolly. "I just feel too much pain in myself. Why is this happening to me? My life is ruined."

"Things may change and improve," said Debbie. "Nothing ever stays the same. When we entered the cave it was bright and sunny. Everyone seemed happy and was going about their business. While we were inside it suddenly changed. It is likely that it will change again and start to get better."

"It never will be," said Dolly. Her words felt heavy on her heart and her feelings grew sadder with every sentence she spoke.

"No, it won't be the same as it was," agreed Debbie. "But let's not lose hope for the future. Perhaps we can start to do things to make it better than it is." And as she thought ahead the sadness faded even a little more.

"Things couldn't be worse," said Dolly. "I have lost everyone and everything. What are we going to do? Nothing is working out right anymore." She kept saying the same things over and over in her head and the more she did, the worse she felt, and the less she felt like doing anything except for just sitting at the entrance to the cave looking over the blackened valley and feeling terrible.

"Come on," said Debbie, nudging Dolly to her feet. "We need to do something. We need to move on to find a new home and friends." It wasn't easy to get Dolly moving, but as soon as Debbie was up and walking she certainly started to feel better. While the same sad thing had happened to both Debbie and Dolly, I wonder which one you think was going to cope with it better. How was Debbie thinking and what was she doing that made it easier for her to cope? How could Dolly change her thoughts and the things she was doing to help herself feel better?

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