Tag Archives: Trauma

Hurricane Maria

I’m sure there are people all over the social media “arena” who are thinking of Sound of Music songs about “a problem like Maria.’   I’m not going to do that.   Smile

All joking aside, Hurricane Maria is a big thing.   It’s the real deal.   It’s a real problem.   It hit Puerto Rico with 155 mile per hour winds. 

What do we do with a problem like Maria?

What do we do when Maria walks the same or a similar path that Irma did?

How do we help?   How do we avoid thinking,  “Another hurricane…..”  (change the channel).

This illustrates the struggle that not only relief organizations but also people on the ground in the path of the storm face.  How do they stay relevant to those who don’t face the issues that the hurricane survivors do?

How do those who have been ravaged by one hurricane and have another one on the way, how do they make it?  If they have resources to use to help survive, that increases the chances they will make it.    But what about the single mom with two kids living in a relatively shaky old 2 family apartment building?   The building was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma and the landlord hasn’t gotten the help to fix the place up yet.   It is questionable whether the house is safe but all of emergency shelters within walking distance are full.   She lost a lot of her possessions in the first storm and what Irma didn’t take, well, it looks like Maria is going to take a good bit more.  How does she get over it?  Will she ever get over it?   Or will any hope of a better life be blown and washed away with the wind and the waves?

It all depends on us.   Our we willing to be content to let the problem be “over there?”  Or are we willing to say,  “Our neighbors are “over there” so we should help?

Assuming that you are not willing to turn your back on those harmed by some major natural events lately, here’s some suggestions on how to figure out best how to help:

  • Work with or support organizations who have a history of working “there” or maybe one island over.   Don’t donate money to an organization that works in Ohio because they are going to send down supplies.   Odds are pretty good that they don’t know what is really needed.
  • Work with experienced people and experienced organizations.  People who know people and people who know how things work there are most likely the ones who will make a bigger difference.

I will have some more thoughts as life moves on, but please pray for the people in Hurricane Maria’s path and pray that it moves out to sea and causes minimal land damage.

Thanks for reading,

Tom

Trauma–it’s more than just a code in the ER

Things I’ve Learned #7

Trauma – what does that mean?

To many people, it is what happens when someone is injured in a car accident.    They are referred to as a trauma case – because something real bad happened to them very quickly.

That’s part of trauma but it’s not the whole picture.   I’ve learned a lot about trauma in the last 10 years…..

  • Trauma can be a single event – abuse, witnessing or being part of a violent act, surviving a major natural disaster, those can all be and cause trauma to someone’s system.
  • Trauma can be a long term event or series of events.   Being abandoned by your family, spending years in an institutional setting (the World Health Organization says that 15 months is the point where living in an institution starts causing damage), spending a significant amount of time with substantial fear for your safety, your ability to eat and have your needs met.   These can all qualify as trauma and can leave scars – not only external but also internal scars.

Instead of explaining more about what trauma is, I’m going to link you to an article that an adoptive mom wrote.    She describes better than most if not all of what I’ve read what trauma does to an adopted child and the adopted child’s family.

Read it at Parenting Trauma Kids.

I need to share one story with you that has haunted me for over 9 1/2 years now.   My wife and I were in Haiti and a birth father brought his son – maybe 2 years old – to the orphanage.   I don’t remember the circumstances of why he brought him there – but that’s not important right now.

His son was playing with some volunteers and seemed to be doing okay.   When his dad turned, walked out the gate and never looked back, the son screamed.

It was a scream like none I’d ever heard before.

It tore at my soul and heart – because I knew this little boy would carry the scars from that exact moment for a very long time, if not for the rest of his life.

That’s trauma and that’s something that affects all adopted children to at least some degree.

TJV

Traveling at the Speed of Pain

I’ve been having a lot of conversations the last couple of weeks with people who are in pain.   Pain from remembering an earthquake in Haiti that happened 6 years ago.   Pain from emotional illnesses.   Pain from relational battle scars.   Pain from losses.   Pain from mourning – mourning the loss of people but also mourning the loss of “what could have been.”   Pain from climbing mountains and finding additional mountains behind those mountains.  Pain from physical illnesses. 

It’s hard.

It’s really hard.   It’s really really hard.

Especially when there are no easy answers.   Or at least very few easy answers.

How do you get over the pain of one of the biggest natural disasters in the history of the world?

Even if you weren’t there, how do you get over the ramifications of, the trauma of it, the changes it made for you and people you care about it?

It’s really beyond words.   

But then our pastor preached on the resurrection of Lazarus and the shortest Bible verse – John 11:35 – “Jesus Wept.”

I’ve always thought that Jesus was crying because he was sad that Mary and Martha and Lazarus had to go through all of “that.”

No, Jesus was weeping because He was angry.   He wasn’t angry at Lazarus, he was angry at evil and angry at death.

Satan was making life hard and painful and Jesus was mad about it.

It’s okay to get mad.

It’s okay to get angry at the evil in the world.

Don’t give up and accept it.   Get mad about it.   Put  your hand in Jesus’s hand and push back.

I can’t repair the damage of the earthquake in Haiti.   At least not for everyone, I can’t.

But I can identify the pain, I can say, “I see your hurt and I will bring you to our father in heaven.”

Name the pain, acknowledge that it’s okay for them to feel that pain.   Help them put their trust in the only one who can truly help them defeat the pain they face.

Oh and be His hands and feet wherever you can.

Tom

Mental Health–Let’s Talk About It

I’ve been involved in a number of conversations in the last couple of days that have been very painful but also have prompted me to do something that I’ve never done before.    Let me explain a few things……

First, let me say that my family and I are all fine – or as fine as we can be.   Smile  The conversations that I had all were with friends who either are suffering or know someone who is suffering from mental health struggles.    And there have been a lot of them – at last count, 7 in the last 48 hours.    A whole lot of pain.

Second, in brainstorming with a couple of creative types and some mental health professionals, a pretty solid consensus came out that we as a society are very good at talking about injuries and physical sicknesses.  BUT mental illness, emotional challenges, depression, mood disorders anything related to that are areas that we really really don’t want to talk about.  

Third, the consensus was that one of the best things that we as a society can do to help combat this is to talk about it.    Bring it out in the open, remove the “shame stigma” and get people to realize that it’s okay to struggle but it’s also okay to ask for help.

SO, I’m going to start something new.   I’m going to start a series on the blog called,  “It’s all in your head (and in your heart.)”    The goal is to have a series of guest posts from people who have a story to tell, who have a reason to care, who want to share what they know and hopefully get more and more people thinking about and talking about mental health.   So if you want the stage, if you have something to say, take it away (with apologies to Toby Mac).

On the right hand side of the blog, there will be a sign up form where you can submit your idea of what you want to write on, whether you want to be named or do it anonymously (anonymous to everyone else, I won’t post something if I don’t know who wrote it) and some other information.   

Let’s get a dialogue going.   Let’s encourage others to realize they are not alone.   Let’s make the pain that one person is feeling less.

Let’s save someone from the irreversible action of the only way they believe they can make the pain stop.  

It’s real.    We need to treat it as real.

Will you help?

Tom