Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, such as returning from a tour of military duty, sudden death of a loved one, a car accident, abuse or neglect, a violent act, or a natural disaster. Many people will not only recover, a large majority recover and decide to create something positive out of tragedy.
This phenomenon is known as post traumatic good, and has only recently started to be studied. Below are three well-known examples:
Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.). This organization was formed in 1980 after the founder’s 13-year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Instead of letting grief overwhelm her, she decided to channel her pain and anger into a vehicle for change. One of her biggest accomplishments was to raise awareness of drunk driving and also to create a “parent’s handbook” that addresses talking to teenagers about drinking.
A more recent example is AMBER Alerts, which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Responses, which was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old who was abducted and killed in 1996. AMBER Alerts are sent via wireless devices, radio stations, Internet radio, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio to announce child abductions. Since December 2015, over 800 children have been rescued due to an AMBER Alert.
Finally, the social networking site Meetup, which was founded in New York in 2002, is an example of something good that arose from the ashes of tragedy. One of its co-founders, Scott Heiferman, said the site was formed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. He said he wanted to use the Internet to make it easier for people to connect with strangers in their communities. As of August 2015, the company claims to have 22.77 million members located in over 180 countries.
Read How Do you Support Employees Indirectly Impacted by Tragedy for practical tips how to constructively respond to trauma or support a co-worker showing signs of acute stress.