We never really know what we will be able to handle or how we will handle something until it actually happens. We can think about it, come up with a plan, and prepare ourselves as best we can, but until it really happens we won't know how we will feel about it.
All of us have a different tolerance level for pain, and I feel this applies just as much (if not more) emotionally as it does physically. On the pain scale, one person's 10 may be another person's 3. Some people can go through the most unimaginable tragedies and still pick themselves up and move on, while others may experience something that most people would consider "less tragic" and not be able to go on at all. To the two varying individuals, two very different events may hold the same amount of tragedy- it's unique and personal how we feel different things.
But we really have no place to judge the scale of tragedy in another person's life, because we all feel and handle things so differently. Even if it's the same event, in the same family, people handle it differently, and there's no right or wrong way. Some people may begin healing after a few weeks, some may take decades before they feel they've "moved on" from the event.
Hardships and tragedies are a fact of life. All us experience a multitude of them throughout our lives, and there's no real "rules" for dealing with them. Society, in general, tells us that there is a right and wrong way of handling things, that there's a certain time allotment for grieving and healing, and that at some point we should go on and return to "normal." But after tragedies and hardships, what once was "normal" will never be again. We adapt and come to a new normal, and usually a little tougher and wiser from the experience, and there's no right or wrong way of dealing and healing. What may work for one person may do nothing for another. Few people will get to the point where they can act like their hardships never happened, and we shouldn't forget what we've gone through to get where we are now.
But even though we experience tragedy, our life does not have to completely become a tragedy. We don't have to let the hardships we've survived through completely dictate and define us, nor do they have to become our sole identities. Yes, they do become a part of who we are, but they don't have to take down the rest of our life.
Think of the phrase "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Is it true? Yes and no. I believe that whether we are strengthened or weakened by our hardships and tragedies is a choice we make. It's harder for some people than others, but always possible. Those hardships will never leave us, but we can turn the pain into power. Open wounds turn into scabs. Scabs will bleed when picked at and may even reopen, but eventually those scabs will turn into scars. Those scars will probably be sore and huge for a while, but eventually they'll fade into our skin, where they will be a visual reminder of what we went through and survived.
We may never "get over" some tragedies, but we can learn to help them heal and learn to live with them. Even if the pain never goes away, we can learn how to dull it. We can make room for happiness again.
Check out this post. I don't agree completely with all of it, but it's pretty interesting and insightful: "I will gladly deny myself unnecessary suffering, so I can avoid the greater tragedy of living in denial of joy."