'Such experiences are maybe less easily recognised as ‘learning’ in the conventional sense........ I cannot keep building on my experience. I do not think I will be better prepared in the future; I do not have confidence in the learning process. It is an emotional journey, emotional learning, forced upon me unexpectedly; and I have developed as a person because of it. Somehow it gives me a deeper sense of humanity and what it means to be human. This is not the same as learning about [something]... So the question remains: is something that has by far the greater impact on my deepest feelings, my ‘inner’ being, appropriately characterised as ‘learning’. No-one would wish to test me on this learning, but it has changed the ways I behave, the ways I think, the ways I interact with people, the ways I appreciate the world around me..... So, I ask, is this the meaning or the very purpose of learning, whatever form it takes… to enable us to think differently, to shift our perceptions and understandings, and to allow us to grow as individuals and as members of the human race?' Elizabeth Dunne
These words express very well what I have experienced on a small number of occasions in my life - the death of my first wife, the very premature birth and intensive care experience of my daughter's twins, the terrifying illness of my son and recent operation on another close member of the family. They are all situations in which you feel helpless to influence the outcome - all you can do is cope and support others who are involved. Nothing really prepares you for these situations and surviving one such experience does not give you confidence when it comes to the next because they are all unique in their circumstances and consequences. They take us outside the world we know and deposit us in a world of uncertainty and fear.It's hard to say exactly what learning is in such situations but it's fair to say that when we have come through we are probably more compassionate, empathetic and sympathetic human beings. Its also fair to say that situations such as these drain your creativity away and all desire to be creative.