I have watched countless, heartbroken people turn away from their pain. They don't want to talk about it, they don't want to feel it, it's just too, well, painful. There is a massive burn on the skin of their spirit, and the idea of touching it can be terrifying.
This morning I saw a story about some of the teachers from Sandy Hook Elementary School who survived the shooting in December of 2012. One of the teachers had a great impact on me, in terms of this work. The shooter was in the classroom right across the hall - she heard everything from just a few feet away. And she still can't talk about that morning - to anyone, as far as I understand.
Now this teacher is joining with other Sandy Hook teachers to fight for stricter gun laws - she is not barricading herself from the world. But as far as her personal healing is concerned, the burn is still too painful.
And that's just fine - although I deeply believe that talking about something this traumatic is essential. But a trauma survivor should never, never be dragged into discussing it in a time not of their own choosing. Trauma almost always involves a complete violation and lack of control - that the survivor makes a conscious, grounded choice about when to enter that phase of their healing is very important in the process of them feeling like they have their life back.
So even though we may be curious, may want to know, may even want to help - please, put your own needs aside, and leave it be. Let your loved one know you are there for them, but do not question or probe any further than they are willing to go. Showing your love and support means meeting them where they are, and just listening with an open compassionate heart.
The extreme end of this, of course, is if the trauma gets in the way of living life, enjoying life, or keeps you from taking care of your health or your family. If bills are going unpaid, things aren't getting cleaned, one cannot work or there is alcohol or drugs involved, please do get a professional involved.
Taking those first steps takes tremendous courage and sometimes the most loving thing we can do for someone who is suffering is give them the space and support to take those baby steps. Most folks will need a great deal of non-judgemental encouragement for this process, so that they can pry the pain away from their soul, and get back to some happiness.
If you would like to speak to me personally about the above subject or any topic surrounding Grief, Loss, coaching or healing, click here to set aside a personal Free ½ Hour Empowerment Call. You are not alone.
Claire M. Schwartz
Leading You Back into the Light after Loss