Monday, July 9, 2012

The Strength Of The Human Spirit

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There is no doubt that first responders, soldiers and other brave men and women who choose to take on life threatening jobs to keep us safe are very special people indeed. 

They need to be physically strong, psychologically stable and extremely well trained to carry out their missions. 

Equally however there seems to a piece of them that needs to be extraordinarily positive, determined, thoughtful and caring in order to cope with the aftermath of their experiences. 

The strength of mind and spirit in these soldiers seems to be as important as the buffed up muscles in their torsos and biceps.

After my post How Do You Cope? I received this very poignant message from Marcy, a breast cancer survivor herself, who had spent the day at Walter Reed Army Hospital in DC. 

With Marcy's permission here is her comment.

I just had to write after reading you piece on coping. The timing for me was so perfect, I've spent a lot of today thinking about how people, such as wounded warriors cope. I've been at Walter Reed twice in the past two days. I've been in awe of the soldiers I see, and have seen for years, but today it just hit me do these (mostly) men cope.

Literally, a body, head and one arm left, yet this hero had a smile on his face, and was playing one hand of a duet on the piano with a friend (who had one leg) playing the other. 

I've seen these soldiers helping each other by one in an electric wheelchair pulling another one in a manual wheelchair up a hill to cross a street, etc. It gives me so much perspective on the things life has dealt me...I just felt like I had to share with you. 

I can't imagine being left without a limb, but without two or three of them? Yet these people forge on, determined to put their lives back together. 

How do they do it? There's so many. It has me thinking...then I read your piece on coping.

How do these wounded warriors cope? 

How do they reach inside of themselves to find the courage, the strength and the spirit to continue in such difficult circumstances? 

Such powerful images of one soldier, helping another, each with their own difficulties but still taking care of their "brothers." 

How do they find hope and healing? And what can we learn from them?

It does not take much to look around and find someone else who is suffering more, hurting more, dealing with more than we are. 

But it is what we make of the situations we are in, how we turn around something that derails us into a new stage of growth that shows the strength and power of the human spirit.

Perhaps a clue to how some of these brave survivors find hope and healing can be seen in the following youtube clip. 

In developing their talents, with the support of their peers, their health care providers and therapists and their loved ones they are beginning to find meaning in their new situations and a lust for living again.

Here is a clip of Cpl Love, one of the marines Marcy saw playing the piano. He lost 2 legs and an arm in Afghanistan in 2010. In this clip he plays a piece on the piano and then describes his recovery and how music has helped him heal in more ways than one. He is so inspiring. If you watch all the way you will hear him talk about how playing the piano has aided his recovery and how he plays better now than he did before he was injured.

 I am sure his strength and spirit will give a lift to your day!

Have an uplifting week.


The A Mile In My Shoes Carnival which prompted me to write the post How do you cope is being published in 2 parts. You can see the first batch of entries here

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  1. Gilly you should send this post to Rebecca (of the coping carnival) and see if she wants to include it also. Puts things in perspective doesn't it.

    1. Rachel -that's a great idea. Thank you.

      When I saw Sgt Love with his cheeky smile playing the duet at the end of the clip, it made me think that anything is possible if you can put your mind and spirit to it. There are other videos of him on youtube-one of him snowboarding(!) and another of him being interviewed after Bin Laden's capture.Each is as inspiring as the next.

  2. When I first became a federal employee, with the Veterans Administration in New York in 1978, the Adminstrator of Veterans Affairs was Max Cleland, who lost both legs and one arm in Vietman. One of the most cheerful, positive people I have had the pleasure of being in the same organization with. He later was a US Senator.

    But I'm sure he took a long time to get to that point.

    1. Wow - Thank you for sharing that story. People really overcome incredible difficulties to achieve more than most of us manage in a lifetime.

  3. Mens sana in corpore sano

    1. A healthy mind in a healthy body. what comes first?