Growing Through Grief


Dave Sanderson | Hudson River Plane Crash - Blame The Event Or Grow

Ep. 18

Nature likes symmetry; if we look at a tree, we will see the same pattern of human veins in its branches. Life is cyclical; life is born and dies with methodic precision season after season. In his book, The Fourth Turning, W. Strauss, looking at history's cycles, points out a pattern of significant tragedies every four generations. To Dave Sanderson, one of the survivors of The Miracle of Hudson, Strauss' words made total sense. Sanderson realized all of us will have our plane crash moments; what we learn from them and how we react is what matters. 

Dave Sanderson was seated in the back row of US Airways Flight 1549, which crashed in the Hudson River in January 2009. At the moment of the crash, he heard the voice of his mother, who had told him to always do the right thing, and God would take care of the rest. That day, ignoring his hypothermia, his fear, and ignoring the fact that he was risking his own life, Dave helped dozens of people escape from that sinking plane. 

In this episode, Dave gives us details of his life-changing experience, how it inspired him to help others, and the tools he got from it to deal with adversity. We talk about those plane crash moments we will all go through eventually and the connection he made between the pandemic and his experience at the Hudson River. Dave also described his sensations coming back to the river many years later. 

Some Questions I Ask:

  •  Could you tell us what happened in the Hudson River? (2:27)
  • When the pandemic hit, you said it was like a plane crash. What do you mean by that? (8:47)
  • You talk about Post-Traumatic Growth Syndrome. Could you explain to the audience what that means? (17:21)

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Dave's gameplan while the plane was sinking (3:20)
  • The best way of dealing with the things we permanently push down and numb with alcohol, drugs, work, etc. (10:38)
  • All of us will have our plane crash moments. What are we going to do about it is what matters (15:28)
  • Was the captain praying when the plane was going down? The power of knowing the answer to that question (22:34)
  • Forgiveness is the only path to growth (26:34)


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