In life there are no guarantees. Most of us have faced a multitude of adversities – some affect us for a while, some change us and the course of our lives, indefinitely. So how do we deal with traumatic events, essentially, the death of a loved one, which elicits responses of shock, sadness, anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed.
Traumatic stress can cause scars and emotional dysfunction that can impact the rest of your life, if not dealt with correctly, taking a toll on your sense of self, security and wellbeing. When families deal with traumatic events, where children are involved, one needs to be more mindful as they are more vulnerable. Childhood traumas are known to cause permanent damage or scarring. Though dealing with trauma is tough, here are a few ways that help ease the process:
Reach Out – Accept The Support That Works For You: To move past trauma, you need to accept the help and support from your loved and trusted ones – including your community, a support group, a therapist, or friends. Let people help with daily chores as with legal documentation. You need to take time and space to grieve, so let others in. Let friends and family be your inner ring of support.
Safety And Stabilization: Recovering from trauma calls for reestablishing feelings of safety and stability – in and around your present environment. A stable and secure environment tends to the mental and emotional injury you have sustained. So, surround yourself with people that inject calm to your body and mind. The goal of this step is to help get through your present situation, one day at a time.
Remembrance, Mourning And Coming To Terms: This is a crucial part of the healing process. This stage involves overcoming the fear of the traumatic memories so that they may become integrated into our sense of reality. It includes exploring and mourning the losses associated with the trauma and finding a space to grieve and express your emotions. This eventually helps you come to terms with your loss and empowers you to move on.
Accepting That Life Goes On: This can be a difficult step in the healing process – as pain recedes and anger comes to the fore. You tend to question life, your faith and everything around. You reflect on the injustice of your circumstance. You get angry with the world and the happy faces around. Remember – it’s perfectly alright to vent, and talk about your feelings – this helps heal. Connecting with others is key – isolating yourself while dealing with trauma can lead to negative outcomes like depression. Spend time with friends when you are up for it and make it a habit to share what you are experiencing.
The Integration Process: This is the next step and includes dealing with emotions while getting back into the normal routine of daily life… doing the laundry, preparing meals, packing lunches for the kids and dropping to school, paying the bills, etc. The simplest of tasks could overwhelm you and prove to be a greater challenge than your anticipated. It’s ok to not be able to feel the joys of life like you used to. In time, these will return, or you will create a new brand of fun activities. Integration involves society at large. Getting back with your circle of friends, relative, acquaintances may prove to be daunting at first, but by and by, things will ease up.
Working With Your Feelings: Feeling your feelings and working with them, accepting them is the best way to deal with trauma. Find time for yourself amidst the chaos that may be your life at the moment. Take time to be honest with yourself. If you need a good cry – do it; if you need to let out your anger – do so! Try to touch base you’re your feelings. Often, people in the recovery process resort to journaling, where they pour their hearts out on paper – this has proven to be cathartic, and may just work for you!
Healing from a trauma is tough. It might turn out that much of your healing journey occurs alone, or it may involve a lot of support. Whichever route you choose naturally will be the one that gives you the best chance of recovery. Your unique ability to heal from trauma involves many factors including, your beliefs, perceptions, your level of coping with stress, your resilience, your connecting with others and your own unique psychological functioning. Recovery from trauma is simply our ability to successfully live in the present without being overwhelmed by incidents of the past and our resultant feelings thereof. Remember – recovery is not the absence of memories or feelings, it’s a process of learning to live with these.