Ronna Kabatznick: Reflections from a Tsunami Psychologist

For those of us who live in earthquake prone places, it’s been drilled into our heads what to do when we feel the first signs of the earth moving.  If you’re indoors, drop and cover, get under the nearest table or desk, cover your head and stay clear of exterior walls, glass and heavy furniture.  If you’re outside, stay clear of buildings, power lines or anything else that could fall on you.  And when it’s over, hopefully you have that earthquake kit to provide you with food, water, clothing and medical supplies to hold you over until the power comes back on, help is on the way, and order is restored.

But what happens if you’re not trained to know the early warning signs of an impending disaster?  What happens when there are no protocols, or procedures or plans in place to mitigate the potential for danger, destruction, injury and death?  And what happens when instead of taking cover, protecting yourself and your loved ones, the early warning signs are ignored, disaster strikes and there is no disaster plan in place to fall back on as chaos reigns?

What happens if you are called upon to be a companion and support to survivors seized by overwhelming loss amid complete chaos, massive deaths, destruction and unimaginable grief and despair?

And what happens to your psyche, and spirit?  How do you ultimately make sense of this to find your own inner peace, acceptance and trust in life?

My guest this week on KOWS, Wise Woman Storytime, is social psychologist and author of Who by Water: Reflections of a Tsunami Psybhologist (and other books), Ronna Kabatznick.  Listen to this most difficult and tragic story. Learn how through Ronna’s deeply held Jewish and Buddhist beliefs and practices, she was able to give selfless compassion and support to those in need and how she continues to emerge as a different woman with a renewed appreciation for living, a deep respect for the fragility of life and an appreciation and acceptance of the absolute impermanence of life.

There are lessons here for all of us.

By Roberta Teller