Sadly trauma is almost synonymous to living, every one of us as humans would experience a form of trauma or emotional pain at one point or the other in our lives…although the impact and effects differs for us all… same with grief.
I know if I ask us all to tell our stories, traumas, grief and pains… its all shades.
The reality is that, Trauma and grief often go hand in hand, so learning to process grief would help us to handle the effects of trauma better.
Trauma is a Greek word meaning ‘Wounded’. It refers to deep emotional injuries that occurs to us often when we least expected. It could be as a result of an accident, abuse, violence, mistake, loss etc, leaving behind terrible feelings of pain, loss, shame, guilt, ridicule, fear, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, depression and many more.
Trauma barrels into your life, wrecks the world as you know it, and then leaves you wondering how to put things back together… it’s plays out with the wreckage of opportunities, friends, careers, relationships, homes, wishes, and dreams, and you are lost in feelings of loss and sorrow. Naturally, these emotions lead to anxiety as you worry about the future and how to discover the best path for moving forward.
Now, the reality is if you had experienced trauma, then you likely also would had experienced grief, and probably anxiety. These often go hand in hand: for example, research suggests that approximately 40% of bereaved people will struggle with an anxiety disorder in the first year following the death/loss of a loved one, including a miscarriage, pregnancy loss, divorce etc.
Sometimes, the “death” connected to trauma is one of your own self. In an instant, your ‘before self’ seems to have evaporated, leaving your ‘after self’ grieving who you used to be. This is a loss and is a big deal, especially emotional losses.
Grief is your private response to loss. For instance, if you find yourself crying unexpectedly, waking up with a stomach ache, or carrying a heavy sense of sadness, these emotional and physical experiences let you in to how meaningful and painful the loss is to you.
In other words, if you find yourself crying and still sobbing even years after the event/experience that brought the pain, it’s okay. It’s a sign that you are still mourning the loss and one good way to begin to heal and handling grief and trauma is to allow yourself to mourn.
While grief is the passive and individual response to loss, mourning is the active, shared response. When we mourn we express our grief, shifting it outside the boundaries of our personal experience and into a social realm. This activated sharing lets the grief transform, which then allows its intensity to decrease.
According to Wolfelt, there are six needs of mourning. Following these steps will help you transform grief slowly and at your own pace:
- Acknowledge the reality of the loss: It’s important to start seeing the lost object(s) in the past tense. Change your language so that you actively refer to what’s been lost as if it now exists in the past.
- Befriend the pain: A key aspect of PTSD is avoidance. However, the mourning process requires you to acknowledge and interact with the pain.
- Shift the relationship: At the core of grief is something you might not expect: love. While you shift your connection to the past, take steps to honor what you loved about what’s been removed from your life.
- Develop a new self-identity: PTSD recovery requires you to create “The New You”. Explore and discover who you are now in the context of the loss.
- Search for meaning: We make sense of our world by assigning meaning to what happens in it. Identify what this loss means to you: find a healthy, supportive meaning that allows you to feel grounded and centered. The search for meaning and purpose was especially may be difficult but important for victims of abuse, violence, torture, etc
- Have ongoing support: Processing feelings of loss takes time. Having continual support is critical to healing, which may occur over a span of weeks, months, or even years.
The Importance of Support
Transforming post-traumatic grief, healing your soul, and identifying how to move forward while feeling safe and in control requires a positive, supportive, tender, and empathetic environment. There are two types of support during this period that play a large role in recovery:
First, you have to find “the therapeutic third.” Wolfert explains that “in general in our culture, you can split people in thirds: A third of people are neutral, they don’t hurt you or help you. A third of people, once you’re around them, will make you feel worse. They try to take your grief away from you, buck you up, or tell you to carry on. A third of people hold you up and give honor to your need to mourn. If you find the latter third you’ll experience the integration of loss into your life.”
Second is the support you give yourself. In each of the steps outlined above (and, indeed, throughout all of PTSD recovery) practicing self-compassion—kindness, support, and understanding—allows you to create an internal environment that respects the healing process and assists it by increasing your sense of calm.
Moving Forward and Overcoming Trauma
Trauma as explained is a “distressing or disturbing experience.” Those who struggle with PTSD know that a simple definition barely scratches the surface of the pain and loss such an experience elicits. However, it’s also true that we don’t have to live in pain forever. While we can’t go back to who we used to be and we can’t reclaim the losses we go through, we can move forward towards becoming stronger, more creative, more resilient, and even more successful people who lead a purpose-filled life after trauma.
If you need help to heal from a past trauma or grief, drop a note here or reach out to me, on whatsapp; +2348035026283
You can have your life back…