Hurricane Harvey: Searching for Meaning

I was shocked and saddened today when I heard of the deaths of a family of six trying to escape the floodwaters produced by the historic storm, Harvey. Manuel Saldivar, 84; his wife Belia, 81; Daisy Saldivar, 6; Xavier Saldivar, 8; Dominic Saldivar, 14 and Devy Saldivar, 16. They all lost their lives when their van sunk after crossing a bridge and hitting high water.

One may ask, “how can surviving family members cope with such a catastrophic loss?” When our son and his cousin were killed I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of Viktor Frankl’s, book “Man’s Search For Meaning.” Dr. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who lost most of his family in the concentration camps. In the book there is a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche which I found most compelling and comforting: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” This message was again brought home to me in an inspiring video that our foundation, Open to Hope, recorded at the 2017 National Conference of The Compassionate Friends in Orlando, Florida. I would like to share the video with you, but first a little background.

The woman in the video is Denise Lourenco whose two sons Zach, and Alex were killed when their sailboat was struck by a low lying power line. Denise’s husband, Manny, and her youngest son, Chris age 9, survived. I met the Lourenco family in 2005 when they attended The Compassionate Friends National conference.

After watching this video I think you will be inspired by Denise’s courage and how she has found a “Why” to keep living and has dedicated her life to helping others.


Below is the email response that my daughter, Heidi, wrote to Denise after viewing the video:

Hi Denise;

You know how much I adore your family. Your son, Chris is one of my very favorite people, I can't believe I met him when he was just 11 years old and today he is in graduate school. I remember reassuring you and Manny that Chris was going to be okay even though he greatly misses his big brothers. Your entire family proves that despite horrific loss, you can find hope again. Thank you for speaking from the heart, and letting everyone know that it is possible to move out of the depths of hell and back into the light. I have no doubt that both your boys are very proud of how your family is honoring their lives!


May God Bless the Saldivar family and all those who have suffered loss.

Dr. Gloria

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