The definition for trauma is kind of brief for me. What is traumatic for us is defined by our expectations [conscious or subconscious/assumed]. In other words: The root of trauma is when our expectations are unmet.
Because there are no objective rule outs for what is trauma, the experience of trauma and the fall out of post-traumatic stress varies widely. Trauma for you may be when your parent told you, either directly or perceived indirectly [assumed/interpreted], you are worthless. Trauma for another may be witnessing or experiencing rape or some life or death situation. There are just enough differences between each human being and their life experiences that allow each of these people to be validated in their experience of pain.
The resulting shame, depression, anxiety, and other difficulties are defined as emotional fallout that the trauma survivor must now face. There are no pills to take away our history or how a trauma can impact, alter, or potentially limit our future. That is the loss. That is the part we, who have experienced trauma, must grieve.
When speaking about trauma, loss, and grief, Viktor Frankl, once said something along the lines of “an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal”.
Loss can be understood in the line: “what once was, cannot now be.”
Grief can be understood as whatever our manifestation of pain from a loss is. Sometimes this is sorrow, or deep emotional unsettlement. Other times is manifests itself in anger, resentment, or giving up. It could be as complicated as clinical diagnoses — generalized anxiety, major depressive disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. Sometimes grief affects us physically through a myriad of illnesses.
Often times when people are in the same room talking about pain, comparisons seem to arise. We tend to compare for various reasons. Many of which we are not consciously aware of. Sometimes we compare in order to receive external feedback, validation, affirmation, and connection. Other times we compare to understand what is good or normal; to understand how to belong or fit within our community during times where we feel lost, empty, different, or damaged. In our desperation we may wonder if we are feeling a pain that is worthy of being suffered from, or a pain that is less worthy to suffer from.
Comparison is ultimately unhelpful for us. Your pain is pain. My pain is pain. And the moment we let another decide what hurts us, we give up our sacred right to be human, to feel and move through our own pain in our own way. We forfeit part of what makes us ourselves. Loss, if combined with comparisons, can evaporate your sense of self. The answer of what is a normal, appropriate, or a correct way to grieve is the way you are grieving. Grief is an emotional response to loss, not a prescribed or voluntary method of managing pain. Grief is a form of pain; “loss pain”; it is a manifestation of our pain; an inward or outward sign of our loss.
If you are suffering from pain of loss; from trauma, seek help. If that comes from me, wonderful! If it comes from your friends and family, or a grocery bagger, wonderful! [A combination of all the above works too!]
Take Away: you are not alone… at least you don’t have to be. If it feels abnormal, it likely matches the abnormality of the loss. If a positive relationship interfered in your life in a pleasurable or preferred way, it will likely interfere in a painful way when its gone. If your pain and grief at the loss of someone important to you burdens you and those around you, you’re probably human.
I appreciate you talking about how most people compare trauma, sometimes without knowing this is happening. My sister is struggling with grief after a traumatic experience happened a few months ago. We need to find a great counselor in the area that can help her heal properly.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Mason, first off I am sorry to hear about your sister’s traumatic experience. Thank you for reaching out to me as well. I am still available for therapy services and through the site your sister can book an appointment. I deeply apologize for not seeing your comment sooner. I hope your sister is doing well and found a therapist in the meantime to help guide her in her post trauma recovery [grieving] efforts. Thank you for your comment as well. I’m glad this article was relatable to you and hopefully helpful to you and/or your sister.