Secondary Trauma

Wow – something funky going on here in my world in the middle of a lot of goodness. Between the tail end of November and now – I’ve had no less than 7 friends/acquaintances let me know of a death in their circle. And yet in the midst of all of that – I’m healthy, I really like my job, I like where I live (and those with whom I live!), I have family in town, I vacation like a rock star . . .

And yet . . . Ouch. This hurts more than I expected. Maybe it’s because ever since my dad passed away, I mourn each death a little more particularly than I may have in the past. When dad went – it pretty radically changed my understanding of what it might feel like for someone else. Up until then, I’d had to guess a bit at what it was like. And while I’d like to think that I was sensitive and compassionate – well – I don’t know.

And it’s a tad more complicated because I’m mostly estranged from any formal religious or spiritual practice, too – and my (up until recently) connection with some local Catholic communities WERE comforting. They probably still are – but I’m at a cross roads there, too: I’m reluctant to engage on a local level when on a wider scale – that community isn’t doing the right thing for women, for social justice, for divorced people, for anyone in the GLBT community. The LOCAL community might be doing a great job – but – when I try to consider the "join locally / ignore globally" – I just don’t feel right about that either. I know it sounds like the baby and the bath water. And the irony is that much of my rectitude about compromising comes from a pretty stellar faith upbringing, which had the best of the Catholic community, served up mostly at the hands of the Jesuits at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose and at Seattle University.

In any case – no great answers. My heart aches for those 7 friends and their friends and family. And I’m a little more glum than normal, and haven’t found the right combination of exercise, quiet time, ritual and so on to make a next step. Odd to have that feeling of abundance in most areas and a well of sadness for these 7 all at the same time.

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2 Comments to “Secondary Trauma”

  1. I can relate soooo much Patrick.  Every slice of grief that I witness or experience always takes me back to my father\’s death.  In some ways I feel less capable when it hits.  The grief is so real and all one can do is love back in these cases and the rest follows.  It has been a long time for me, but before my father died I think I believed I could DO something.  I hope that makes sense.  I\’m totally not raised in any faith but have come to my own in the process.  I read a lot and carry my best friends with me on the spiritual path.  I really feel for you, take care.  Marika

  2. Marika – thanks for your note! Writing about it helps, knowing that friends in the same boat helps, just saying out loud "jesus, that\’s a lot of bad things happening" helps bring it all to the surface. I still think I can do something – I pick up the phone and call and tell my friends it\’s crappy. On a really good day, there is something I can offer – a pint, a meal, a walk, something. That helps. And, in an odd way, I enjoy that part, the reaching out. Still trying to figure out what there is so much of it just now, though – no idea what that is about! -pcs

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