The after effects of trauma

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2019

By Jenny Filush-Glaze
Grief Relief

One thing that I know and truly understand from living within the intimate walls of bereavement and serving those who have experienced loss, is the powerful effect trauma has on us as individuals. Some are able to withstand some of the most horrific and terrible things and show little to no outward signs of inner turmoil, while others have very visible signs that bad things have happened and that things will never be the same.

Case in point, I am still blessed with the opportunity to be present for many of the survivors from the March 3 tornadoes. And, even though I understand grief and all of the layers that have yet to surface, experiencing a post traumatic reaction and witnessing it firsthand is absolutely heartbreaking. One minute a child can be showing me her latest dance moves and tumbling carelessly across the floor, her laughter loud and infectious, and the next I am finding her running terrified into the safety of my arms, trembling and afraid after a weather siren rang out unexpectedly to signal an approaching storm.

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I wish I could say that this is rare or that it is getting better for most people, but I cannot simply because I continue to witness adults and children startle and jump at the slightest hint of a rumble from the skies, running toward blinds to peek outside, blinds that constantly remain closed in order to prevent seeing anything that might represent bad weather. All I can do is allow for the feeling expression, validate that what they are feeling is normal and attempt to help them develop some coping mechanisms that might alleviate (not eliminate) some of the stress and anxiety.

You may wonder why I stated “not eliminate — the answer is because for those who have experienced trauma and continue to relive it over and over in their minds, they understand that it will always live with them. Unfortunately, it has become a part of who they are and asking them to “get over” feeling this way or trying to explain to them the differences in the severity of the storms, simply does not help, nor does it make them feel better.

Ask yourself, were you there? If not, none of us can profess to understand and yet it is important that we continue to try and be present and walk alongside them as much as they will allow. 

Trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” I think it is safe to say that our community has experienced more than the lion’s share of trauma in these last few months, and though we cannot change the outcome, we can work toward continued healing, because together, anything is possible.