Brittany Harrington is an 18 year old Senior at Concord Christian Academy in New Hampshire. She contacted me regarding an interview for her Sr. Portfolio in which she is doing her paper on Trauma and Loss. Her questions generate answers that I feel others may find helpful when faced with dealing with loss and grief. The full transcript of her interview is provided below as a resource tool.
Thank you Brittany for your diligence in pursuing this information, you are the catalyst that provides information to help others suffering from traumatic loss and grief.
Transcript of Brittany Harrington’s Interview on Trauma and Loss with
Dr. Diva Verdun, Empowerment Coach, Metaphysical Minister and Spiritual Practitioner
Brittany: I f you have the time I would love for you to answer all of these questions but if not I’ll list the questions in order of importance so that you can answer as many that you’re able to , while I still get the results that I need. Thank you so much for being willing to do this!
Diva: Brittany, thank you for inviting me to interview with you for your Sr. document on Trauma and Loss. I would like to empower you to be as assertive as you were aggressive and bold when you requested this interview.
I am happy to answer all of your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want to close the deal. If what you want is all the questions answered, then assume you will get all the questions answered and you will. You were aggressive enough to get the interview, don’t back down now that you have it. Sink your teeth in and be assertive to move forward with intention. Don’t be shy my precious one and don’t back down on what you need when you have not received and push back. Keep pressing for what you want. You will find you will achieve the results you want. So what’s the first question?
Brittany: What steps would you suggest to someone going through a traumatic situation? Steps you’d give a friend of someone going through something traumatic? How would you advise a layperson as he/she guides someone through their trauma to proceed?
Diva: Before we move into the depth of this discussion, I would like to interject that all of my answers are spiritually based as a metaphysical and holistic counselor. I am not a practicing physiologist, therapist or medical doctor and my job is to know the truth for others in their healing through Universal ONEness.
I practice and teach the knowing of the truth in every situation, sharing that each and every person is here to experience all of L.I.F.E. and to experience it more abundantly. I stand in the place of knowing the truth as the person moves their MIND into alignment with the truth to facilitate their own healing in their particular circumstance, including grief and loss.
Thus, my answers may seem to conflict at times with those of a psychologist or medical practitioner, which treats the symptoms, prescribing medication and treating wounds. I treat the MIND to overcome the negative thought processes to restructure the Universal Truth through the knowing of positive spirituality and ONEness with the perfection of BEING.
How we address this situation per the phrasing of your question will depend first on having an understanding of the type of trauma the person is experiencing. There are many levels and types of trauma.
- Trauma from body-altering physical injury or loss of a limb.
- Blunt trauma, which is physical also but caused by direct impact or force from being struck with something.
- Traumatic Loss – Loss suffered from losing a loved one to an unexpected tragic event: i.e. murder, suicide, accident.
- Psychological trauma, which is an emotional or even psychological injury which can come from stress, medical trauma, grief, or life-threatening situations. This spans the range to include Geriatric and Pediatric trauma, which affects both the elderly and children alike, but can also be caused by emotional, psychological injury and in many cases is compounded by physical trauma from injury of seniors and children.
Before giving any advice to anyone, we, both practitioner and layperson, must probe to find the answers. We cannot assume to know the situation fully until it is expressed by the one experiencing the traumatic episode and/or loss.
For instance, suppose the person was injured and lost a limb. This person is dealing with physiological trauma as well as physical trauma in the damage to their body. This creates tremendous emotional suffering in addition to the traumatic loss of a limb. We cannot change the fact that the traumatic episode happened. Not ever. We cannot change the fact that there has been loss either. Not ever. What we work to change is the process of suffering through the realization of truth.
So the question now becomes what is the realization of truth? The realization of truth is that perfection is a Divine manifest. Meaning that in this instance, this person can still function fully and live fully ALL of L.I.F.E. even with their handicap. The realization of truth is to focus on love of self to move through the suffering caused by a traumatic episode that totally derailed the so called pattern of one’s L.I.F.E. to explore the new coarse with awe and discovery. It is finding the courage to move forward past the fear of the unknown into a wonderful new place even though a tragedy has disfigured one. (This is only one scenario, each situation is uniquely different so each must be handled differently)
So in summary to be more specific to your question. As a layperson or practitioner, the support is the same, while a practitioner may have a more in-depth knowledge of the truth, the layperson also has equal intuition and knows the truth. Either should take the following steps to counsel with one experiencing a traumatic episode.
Step 1. Create and continue to provide a safe space to welcome conversation when they are ready to talk about the issue. You must be an attentive and open listener. Do not interrupt or attempt to interpret their pain, just listen. They FEEL it, you do not. Thus, you cannot interpret what they FEEL. You can only know the TRUTH. Through your attentive body language and eye contact continue to create a safe space for them to share, to cry, to scream and to most of all begin the healing journey. (It is not I, but the Father that doeth the work – summation – John 14:10)
Step 2. Probe: (ask lots of questions) Even with factual knowledge of the traumatic situation, i.e. dismemberment, loss through death and grief, rape, domestic violence etc… we must probe to find their interpretation and FEELING regarding the emotional and physiological trauma being experience. This helps the person to begin to face their experience and their fears. Do NOT assume you know. It is how they FEEL.
Step 3. LISTEN more than you speak. Just LISTEN! Allow them to talk through their experience and fears. Allow them to talk through their emotional crisis that has resulted from this.
Step 4. Know that the person does not expect you to personally heal them. They are only looking for you to listen and comfort them through the understanding of their fear, loss and pain. Encourage them, pray(if in their faith) with them and share with them they are loved.
Step 5. (Here is where the ways part from layperson to practitioner) As a practitioner we stand in the place of truth. We work through prayer treatment and positive spirituality to move the person from a place of fear to a place of truth and light. Each situation is uniquely different and requires its own method of moving through the the empowerment of MIND depending on the depth of fear, doubt, depression and negativity being demonstrated in the moment. Again, there is no replacement for limb or correction to right situations that have crippled a person physically, emotionally, mentally or psychologically. There is only the restoration of MIND through a renewal process to KNOW the truth to move forward through forgiveness and the power that lives within to persevere to LIVE all of L.I.F.E.
Brittany: Do you think anything that someone is going through is smaller then what someone else might be going through? (Levels of significance?)
Diva: No! There is nothing small or big to Spirit in any capacity. Thus, there is nothing small or big in our trials as well. Someone may have a full mental breakdown from breaking a finger nail, while a person that looses limbs in a horrific accident gets up and moves to the next dynamic of L.I.F.E. without batting an eye. i.e. There is a young female professional surfer named Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm in a shark attack. Despite the trauma, she spent 7 days in the hospital and returned to professional surfing one month later. She wrote a book about her story and a movie was released on her life April 2011. Here is the reference is you like to learn more about her amazing story. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethany_Hamilton Here also is a video with her sharing her experience – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=37l1WfdFNQE
The point is there is no level of significance. Each situation is unique and equally traumatic to that person. What may seem small to one person may be totally traumatic to another one. Each person handles their situations differently and as practitioners we must count each situation as of greatest concern to the person we are treating.
Brittany: How long does grieving take? How long is too long?
Diva: There can be no time placed on the grieving process. I lost my father in a horrible car accident when I was 20. I had no idea I was still grieving his death in my 40s until I embarked on the ministerial process where we had to learn how to deal with grief, loss and death. Many people are not in tears over the loss after many years, just as I was, but have not come to terms with the loss to allow them to move forward. So while the actual tears may only last months or even a couple of years during specific holidays and birthdays that stimulate memories of a loved one or a relationship, the person may not be ready to move forward years into the future. This the practitioner, nor the person that is suffering from the loss will realize without open discussion and specifically targeted and loving probing.
The danger is for those that fall into deep bouts of depression from their loss leading to clinical issues that may require medication to deal with their anxiety and pain because they lack the ability to cope with and deal with their grief naturally. Again, we go deeper here into fears and other issues, but this takes us off track from your original question. Basically there is no time frame for the process and there is no such thing as taking to long to process. It is done when it is done, each person processes differently.
Brittany: What is important to recognize when someone is going through something traumatic? If a lay person wants to help someone who’s going through a traumatic event (or series of events) what are some key “do’s” and “don’ts”?
Diva: The first thing to recognize is that in most cases the suffering person will prefer silence over conversation. You may want to help, and feel helpless to the help because they don’t welcome conversation at this point. Allow them the space needed in a supportive and loving atmosphere. The time for speaking will come in its own time. Pay attention to their sleep and behavior patterns to recognize if they are extremely withdrawn and removing themselves from living. If they are no longer interested in any aspects of L.I.F.E. they may need professional help to prevent them from harming themselves or others. Note that they may not solicit nor want your help and may become hostile at your intrusion of their so called grieving process and/or privacy. Allow them space and give them time with loving assurance that you are available when the need you.
I am attempting to review the part of your question regarding a series of events. Trauma comes from the loss of something. A series of traumatic events may not be the norm for these instances in the aspect that they are traumatic. A traumatic event can generate other emotionally and financially damaging situations, but these all stem from the original loss. ie. Loss of limb can result in loss of a job, which changes income etc… A series of traumatic events could be going through a divorce, then losing your children in a plane crash, and your brother committing suicide all within a year’s time.
While a divorce can be devastating, it may not be what actually triggered trauma. It may be the abrupt moving from one’s home several months later, it may be the change in financial means that create other issues. As well, natural death is loss, but traumatic loss in death comes from the abrupt unexpected death of a loved one through murder, suicide or accident. So I am not able to fully answer this part of your question as I have attempted to move mentally through possible scenarios, which would be deemed a series of traumatic events. Each situation warrants its own unique handling of the problem based on what the person is suffering through. Thus, this is an impossible question to fully answer based on so many different scenarios.
You can add the above covered do’s and don’ts from your first question here in review.
Brittany: If someone thinks that talking to someone about their problems is pointless, what would you say to them?
Diva: I would say, “You’re probably right because only you know exactly what you are FEELING. But what if they just were open to listen to you talk through your thoughts without saying anything? Do you FEEL it may help?”
This is the answer to your question directly, but would not be my method of handing this situation. Would I be in a position to hear someone say this. NO! Why? Because remember, this response would only be triggered by an uninvited intrusion in which you have not gained the trust of the person suffering the loss. Remember they are feeling alone and isolated and feel they have to manage a new lifestyle based on their trauma and no one can do this for them, nor do they trust anyone to do this for them. They have to work through their FEELINGS and emotions. If you have been the open support from the beginning the natural process will evolve into some sort of communication, even if it is through fits of anger that they share with you or even in some cases at you.
So while I have given you a basic response that I may potentially share to this question, I caution you that one should not be in a place to do battle with a person regarding needed counseling. Trauma, grief and loss recovery is a slow emotional process. You must be invested in the person to allow them the space needed to naturally process their grief. If you keep the space safe for them they will reach out to you for your assistance when they are ready.
Again, each situation is unique and this is where you must be intuitively plugged in. If the person is a danger to themselves or others it is obvious that you need to immediately call for help no matter what.
Brittany: What would you say to someone that’s going through a traumatic situation about trusting others? When trauma is triggered by an event that destroys trust, how can the trust issue be over come so that therapy can help?
Diva: Again, the key here is building a safe space to allow the person to trust you to share their intimate hurt and pain. This is not something that can be rushed. Traumatic loss that causes lack of trust issues revolve in most cases around rape, molestation, domestic violence, elder abuse, bullying and verbal abuse, which require intensely working through layers of issues together, beginning with self-blame and deeply rooted shame. People suffering from these situations need great deals of support from those in their inner circle, even though they do not trust you. This begins with making sure to not tread on any areas that may potentially point or shift blame on the person that has been affected by these issues. Ex: You would not say or imply to a person suffering from these issues that if they were not where they were, if they had of stood up for themselves, if they were stronger etc… these things would not have happened to them. In their emotional state they interpret this as it was their fault that this thing happened to them. This makes them shrink more into a space that is unreachable because they blame themselves and feel ashamed and your response cements the thought that it is not safe to trust anyone at all because they are alone in the world with their issue because no one can understand them or what they FEEL.
Trust is something that is earned. You must continually demonstrate that you are safe by sharing love while allowing them the space they need to heal. The person will come forward in their own timing because what they really want is to trust someone to rescue them from the silence and the prison of their pain.
Once they feel the space is safe and that you do not see them as the source of their pain, and that you are there to be a caring and loving non judgmental support, they will evolve in their own timing.
Much of therapy is more love, support and cheerleading as the person works their way through their pain to emerge into a healthy person.
Brittany: What would you say to someone who needs someone to talk to, but is anxious about talking to someone that they don’t know?
Diva: From what viewpoint does this question stem? If you are with a person that needs someone to talk to my question is why aren’t you talking to them? Does this question mean you have already moved into a safe space where the person has come to terms that they need professional assistance? Are you asking the person to talk to someone without them inviting assistance? Are you a professional or a family member working through this with someone?
This question is very vague as it does not give a basis from which it stems. I will attempt to answer it based on a family member speaking to someone in need. I will assume that the person suffering is at the level that they have agreed to speak with a professional but has reservations because of their fears.
I would say,”You have come so far to this point, why don’t we just go to meet with them and you can see how your FEEL. If you do not FEEL comfortable you don’t have to move forward with the appointment? How to you FEEL about that?
By asking a person how they FEEL, you are giving them the opportunity to continue to work through their feelings. If they FEEL they are in control of the meeting then they may agree to move forward. If not, do not force them to move forward until they FEEL they are ready.
Brittany: What is one thing that’s important about seeing a therapist? What would you say is the most important reason why someone should see a therapist?
Diva: Because I am not a therapist, I am a spiritual practitioner, minister and holistic L.I.F.E. coach I cannot answer this question based on clinical needs or issues.
I do believe that the most important reason a person sees a practitioner like myself, a therapist or minister is because they are seeking help that will guide them through the dark cloud of grief that they are suffering through. They are generally ready to face the pain and move forward but seek someone to provide them with direction, support and the coaching necessary because they FEEL they can’t do it alone.
Brittany: What would you tell a child whose parents are going through a divorce, that the things that they are feelings matters? How can you help a child whose parents are divorcing realize that their emotional health is important and should be attended to?
Diva: Children feel defenseless because they cannot interpret their feelings nor are they capable of fully disclosing how they feel. The first line of emotional help should come from the parents. They should talk to their children to share with them that they are safe and loved. If both parents are obviously violent this makes this a deeper problem. Children may FEEL more comfortable with a grandparent or aunt then in this case that provides them with a safe and loving support system.
While divorce is very traumatic for all family members involved, bringing a therapist into the situation is not warranted unless the child shrinks into a deep depression and is unreachable. So my advice here would be to parents and family members to embrace their children to provide the love and support to make them FEEL safe and stable while enforcing that their feelings do matter.
Brittany: What would you tell a teenage girl, whose boyfriend broke up with them for someone younger after telling them that he wanted an adult relationship?
Diva: (Smiling) This is a very very specific question, with a specific scenario. I am curious to who I can help through this situation because it is so specific that you must be close to the person that is suffering through this situation.
Breakups can be traumatic emotional experiences. We grieve relationship breakups just like we do a loved one dying. Why? Because the relationship has died and we have lost the love it provided. We are left with memories that cause us pain as we reflect on them just like when a loved one physically dies. You will move through all of the same levels of grief as if you lost someone in physical death.
This question is shadowed by the layer of thought regarding the boyfriends reason for breaking up. Allowing the reason to become the focus only drives a deeper wedge into the emotions creating unnecessary emotional damage. The truth, regardless of the reason or explanation, is that the boyfriend does not want to be in the relationship at this point so the his real reason really does not matter. Whatever his reason, the pain of loss will still be the same. What does matter is healing your emotional trauma through the knowledge that you are enough by loving yourself back to health.
It is in moving through the grief process and knowing that it is OK to feel the pain of the breakup. It is taking time to invest the love in self and allowing the other person to be free to BE and Do what they need to do for themselves that makes them happy. It is coming into the realization that allowing that person to be happy with someone else opens the door for you to be happy with someone new as well. It is knowing that relationships groom us to BE more than we were before. Why? Because we learn more about ourselves and the POWER of who we are through the experience. We learn that we can overcome trials and bounce back to participate in L.I.F.E. using our new found wisdom from a painful experience.
The key is to always be OPEN to allow LOVE to be present in your L.I.F.E.
You do this my precious by LOVING self more than ever. Why? Because if you don’t LOVE yourself first, you will never find a person that will be able to fill this void for you. It starts with self-love and through that you attract more love in your experience.
I LOVE YOU!