In 1984, author Jerry White lost his leg in a landmine accident. In his book, "I Will Not Be Broken," published earlier this year, White shares his post-disaster experiences and offers advice. The author joined "GMA" to discuss his book and his five-step program for coping with disaster.
Read an excerpt of the book below.
Everyone Has a Date With Disaster
We hate to call bad news normal, but it is. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot stay insulated from life's random acts. Chances are you'll get a phone call like I did several years ago, "Jerry, I don't know how to tell you this, but Dad is dead," my brother Ron said through tears, "he had a heart attack this morning." Oomph! It feels like a kick in the stomach. Not this, you think. But he was just here for the holiday. Nothing fully prepares you for these moments.
Disaster strikes in an instant, unwelcome and devastating. No one has yet figured out how to escape these sudden blows. Last year alone, there were more than 114 million visits to America's emergency rooms. Most of these hospital visits would count as sobering, if not traumatic, family moments. Each year, in the United States alone, roughly 6.5 million will become victims of a violent crime; 1.2 million will get professional help or die from drug or alcohol addiction; 1 million women will be raped; and over 31,000 will commit suicide.
No matter how you slice the numbers, they add up to a hell of a lot of suffering and a lot of grief left in its wake. It reminds us just how normal it is to meet people in crisis everywhere in the world. We are all acquainted with grief. It is one of the things connecting us all, regardless of faith, culture and geography.
But it's more than just pain that unites. The strength and resilience it takes to get through the pain also bind us. Scores of survivors of all types have shared their personal experiences with me for the purpose of this book: to offer a flashlight for dark times. These stories reveal different layers of survivorship, and drive home the point that everyone indeed has or will have a date with destiny, maybe even more than one. Knowing you have peers with similar experiences can be a great comfort. But why do some survivors handle their dates better than others? Why do some individuals grow stronger in the face of adversity, while others descend into bitterness and despair?
The survivor stories you are about to read are meant to help you face whatever adversity is in your life: the mother recovering from cancer, the family struggling with news of the death of a child, the father losing his spouse or a job, the sibling trying to make sense of an addiction or sudden accident that throws a family into turmoil. In these stories, you will see that, in the wake of catastrophe, survival can sometimes be profoundly beautiful and inspiring.