Research shows that trauma impacts the body on a cellular level. The longer that we are exposed to trauma, the higher an impact that trauma has. As the trauma continues, our capacity to manage the fear and the sadness lessens. Community trauma, such as a global pandemic, affects more than our body. The last nine months have been a roller coaster for most. We have experienced laughter. We have all experienced mourning: some have experienced mourning a death loss. Many have experienced a loss of the belief and predictability of a way of life. We have experienced anger. For some, anger has been a protector. It has kept us moving and doing in order to avoid more vulnerable emotions such as fear. For others, anger has been the last straw of fear and discrimination and has led to a world-wide movement to create change. For us in Colorado, the summer has been tough, as the hottest on record and with record-breaking wildfires dominating the air.
None of this has been easy (except the Tiger King memes). Families have divided over beliefs about safety, core values such as politics, and standing on either side of a line. Fear and misunderstanding have led to depression, anxiety, violence, and, again, loss. And many have lost those they love.
Throughout the last nine months, things that have gone unsaid matter. One of the safety factors to get through a traumatic event is to also see and be surrounded by positive things that have happened either because of, or during the time of, the traumatic event.
Here are just a few wonderful things that have happened during this difficult time.
- Mother Nature has been able to breathe and rekindle areas that have long since been abandoned: dolphins were seen in Italy’s rivers, endangered animals at zoos are giving birth to rare babies because there was space to focus on reproduction in their lives, and India saw blue skies after years of the air pollution being 20 times higher than what is deemed safe by WHO.
- Tom Hanks and his wife, and many others, have given plasma to hospitals to treat those affected by COVID19.
- People have been leaving water and snacks for delivery workers to thank them for working during this difficult time. People have shared what they have, despite fear that they will not be able to replace what they share.
- Neighbors have helped neighbors, and communities have helped those in need. Thousands of people made masks to help the first responders and essential workers have what they needed to remain safe. Major companies shifted to find ways to make masks to keep people safe.
- USA Today listed 100 positive things that have happened in 2020. Here are just a few
- Drive-in movies have made a comeback
- Restaurants shared recipes so we could make the food at home
- Thousands of pets were adopted
- Major companies pooled together to shift production to make millions of masks to help keep people safe.
- Automakers shifted production to create ventilators to help individuals suffering from COVID.
If you spend 15 minutes a day watching the news, your homework is to spend 15 minutes a day finding the stories of hope. To get through this, we have to find connection. As Mr. Rogers so wisely said “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts, and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers”.
Prepared by Melanie McClung-Eidsmoe, LPC of Brightside Counseling Services, LLC.