These weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions…watching not one, but two storms come our way; seeing the devastation from Ida; worrying about threats from Nicholas, and remembering the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It’s a lot to process...
You may remember Scott and Holly Stoner visiting St. Luke’s many years ago and introducing their program, “The Living Compass”. Scott is a retired Episcopal priest and currently a psychotherapist; Holly is a retired school teacher and currently a counselor. Scott’s email publication, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” from last week really struck a chord with me. He wrote about the aftermath of trauma, and a healthy way to process the aftermath. Here is an excerpt from his article:
“…Anyone who has experienced trauma of any kind knows that healing always takes longer than expected. Those who have experienced trauma also know that when the anniversary of the trauma comes around, even years later, the waves of fear, anxiety, helplessness, and sadness will often return. This is not a bad thing, as it can provide an ideal time to talk again about the trauma, and talking about it is an essential key to healing.
“As a psychotherapist, I have had the opportunity to work with many trauma victims through the years. They have taught me that the three essential tasks that promote healing from any kind of trauma or loss are feeling, talking, and trusting. If you are striving to recover from any type of trauma, this is what you will want to do repeatedly, and if you are helping a friend or family member recover from trauma, you will serve them well by creating a safe space for them to feel, talk, and trust.
“The feelings following trauma are overwhelming at first. They can come like waves that feel as though they threaten to drown the person who has experienced the trauma. The key to working through these intense feelings and beginning the healing process is to simply accept the feelings and let them flow. If the feelings are blocked, the healing is blocked. Feelings are never right or wrong, they just are, and they need to be expressed.
“The next task involved in healing from trauma or loss is talking with others about what one has experienced. There are really only two choices here-we can either talk things out, or we can act them out. If we don't talk things out, we will likely act them out by being irritable, violent, withdrawing, or possibly turning to alcohol and other drugs. It may be helpful to remember that beneath much of the negative acting out behavior we see in the world is trauma or loss that has not been healed.
“Feeling and talking are made possible when we have people in our lives that we can trust. We need to seek these people out if we are in recovery from trauma and avoid isolating from others-a common temptation when we are hurting. Finding a trusted person who will simply listen is key to healing any kind of trauma…”
It’s been 13 years since our house was severely damaged during hurricane Gustav, and yet some days, it feels like just yesterday. Friends and family have listened and supported us through these years, and it has been humbling to be on the receiving end of such care. Offering that safe environment, listening quietly to the emotions that are being expressed and just being present are true gifts to others. Being able to express that hurt in a safe environment is a big step towards healing. I hope that you can provide that safe place for someone who may need it; that you know those who can provide that environment if you need it; and that there are always listening ears here at St. Luke’s for you. Please feel free to contact me either by calling the Church Office, 225-926-5343, or by email: email@example.com.
, if I can help.
Becky Williams, RN
Director of Health Ministries
Pastoral Care Facilitator
Here is the link to Scott’s full article from September 10: https://www.livingcompass.org/wwow/