I am NOT an Expert on Trauma, but…

I may not be a trauma expert, but I know we’ve all been impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

My weekend had an unusual twist. I was out-of-town on a previously scheduled trip. As a matter of fact, this weekend had been in the making for 30 years, as it was my husband’s college reunion.

So we scrambled around on Wednesday, like everyone else, to get extra water, tuna fish, peanut butter and batteries. I even have an empty bread aisle photo from Publix to document my errands.

But we were also packing to head north (think first cool spell) and for me, I was prepping to make a good first impression on his important friends.

Our flight, thankfully, was set for Thursday, before the worst of the weather reached our area, but it was a super strange to leave with such mixed emotions. I was torn to not stay with my home, so the excitement of our upcoming plans stayed just out-of-reach in my heart.

And then we waited, like everyone local, but we were out-of-state.

Being long distance meant we only caught bits and pieces of the news, and looked like ‘unsocial’ friends with faces buried in the limited feed on our phones. Arrgh! It was frustrating and sad and a bit scary at times.

I don’t do ‘pretend’ (hide things) well, so I had to be real.

I opened up to these new friends about my concerns and instantly bonded, connecting at a deeper level. That helped so much.

Finally we got the word that the worse had passed and we personally had been spared from most of the damage. That was a huge relief. My feelings were still tugged at by everyone else’s experiences, but after that I could give myself a little more to all the fun and reminiscing.

And then we arrived home last night.

My heart was in my gut as we drove away from the airport. What would I see? How would I handle the damage first hand? Seeing it via the TV or through friend’s Facebook posts was one thing, but now I was having my own experience with it.

It was like my beloved city, and especially my friend the beach, had been ‘violated’ while I was away. That may sound strange, but all of these other emotions got stirred up. I felt at a loss for not being here, and equally disturbed by the end of innocence of my safe haven.  

Though very grateful for my personal situation of minimal clean-up, I could sense some grief creeping into my feelings.

Life as we knew it had come to an end.   

That’s when I realized, whether your loss of property was big or small, there is another loss to consider. Our normal was gone. Our peace had been significantly disrupted. Our lives would never be the same.

So, if the raking, cleaning and sorting through damaged mess seems to really be getting to you, let me offer these words…

Give yourself some grace.

  • Although this extra care and work load requires new adjustments, inconveniences and stressful hassles, take some time for you.
  • It’s okay to feel sad (or whatever you are feeling). That’s ‘normal’ and healthy for you to acknowledge.
  • Look for opportunities to be with other people. This can include providing physical help or just being there. Giving to others keeps your perspective balanced and removes the heaviness of isolation.
  • Be aware that waves of sadness, frustration, and overwhelm could be around for a while. Once again, it’s uncomfortable and not something you may choose, but ignoring or suppressing it will not help.
  • Know that you are cared for and valued, and your heavenly Father is always available to provide you with peace and strength.

“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Psalm 16: 8   

As with all storms and trials, courage and character await you on the other side.

May the impact of Hurricane Matthew also bring you to a place of grace.

Jacksonville, we have another day.