Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Saturday, January 27

Trivializing Trauma

I must apologize to all my loyal readers, all, like, seven of you. But I am just not feeling funny today. This post is something of an extension of So, what do you do? but on a more serious note.

A friend of mine was a first responder at the Murrah Building and we discussed some of his experiences last night. He found that the best way to deal with the trauma was to talk to other people about it. Sharing the load left him with less to carry. But it took some time for him to share. His group had been at the periphery and hadn't been involved with the more graphic scenes. Because he was exposed to less he felt less of a right to be traumatized.

I recalled an article I read about helping couples coping with a miscarriage. Some couples feel they haven't the right to grieve because they never actually had a baby and some fathers feel they haven't any right to grieve because their wives have the stronger claim. The article cited a few choice comments often made by well-meaning but thoughtless people to those who have suffered a miscarriage. Observations like "Susie had five miscarriages in a row." and "You can always try again." tend to trivialize the hopeful parents' experiences, robbing them of the opportunity to grieve for their loss.

I also recalled how I felt when my brothers died. I wanted to talk to other people about it. Like my friend the first responder, I wanted to share my load. But there were so few people I could talk to about how I felt. Some people tried to 'outdo' me, citing their own losses or imagining how they would respond. Others judged me, finding me too reserved, and decided I must not care. After a few of these incidents, I became overly cautious about talking to anybody. As a result, I had too few people I could share with.

In the post So, what do you do?, I discussed how new acquaintainces trivialize our endeavours and, sometimes, our passions. Not until my friend shared his experiences with me, did I recognize how far that tendency goes. After my brothers died and I had been on the receiving end of this, I thought back to things I had once been stupid enough to say to people and cringed. Of course, I still trivialize others' experiences. Except now I usually have the decency to keep my mouth shut until I get over it.


Jill said...

Wow, Nina, I hope I wasn't one of those people who didn't allow you to share your struggles. I love you!

Nina said...

No Jill. You are an awesome friend!

Anonymous said...

So what exactly is it that you do?

Anonymous said...

Oops! I meant to leave that line on a different day - sorry! Oh well, you'll figure it out...what with being a math genius et all...