Trauma is an experience that seems to threaten our lives. It can impair a person’s psychological stability by creating anxiety, stress, nightmares, flashbacks, and tremors. Depending upon the type of trauma, it can also affect a person’s physical well being, such as being in a severe car accident.
Types of trauma can include:
- physical fights
- car accident
- natural disaster
- sexual assault
- physical assault
- abuse by parents or caregivers
- children being removed from their parents unexpectedly
These are just a few examples of trauma. But there are may be many more. Depending upon the situation in your family, you, your spouse, and your children may need to do some collective healing. For instance, families might lose a loved one, parents might get divorced, or there may be a terminal illness in the family. All of these examples are reasons for families to want to heal together.
- Communicate the truth. Likely, your family has been through many uncomfortable situations in which the truth was withheld or feelings were not shared. Now that the circumstances are different, it’s time now to speak the truth to anyone in the family who may not already know what happened. Of course, you’ll need to make your truth-telling age appropriate for your children. But more importantly, it’s time to let your teen and other children know that they are in no way responsible for what happened and that they are loved. Children, especially younger ones, need to know they are loved and accepted and that there is nothing they did to cause the traumatic event.
- Attend a Family Support Group. When you’re around other families who have also experienced some sort of trauma, you can hear how they are coping with the situation. You can hear about their strengths and challenges. In fact, hearing the stories of others can help create healing. Seeing a family bond and connect with one another can help your family do the same. Furthermore, family support groups come with the assistance of a trained professional who can facilitate therapeutic experiences and healing. Plus, by meeting other families, you and your family have a community of supportive people around you.
- Move forward slowly. If your family is still showing signs of the loss, grief, or struggle, give your children time to adjust to the way things are now. Give your family the space they need to heal. For instance, your children might not be doing well in school or your spouse might be quieter than they usually are. But let your family take time to make the changes, adjustments, and healing they need. Be supportive as best you can while your family adjusts. And meanwhile, be sure to get the support you need (as the parent or caregiver).
- Have fun together. Don’t forget to enjoy each other’s company. Try to repair any relationship issues that the trauma might have caused. You can do this by having open and honest and loving conversations. You can spend time together by going to the movies, enjoying the beach together, or simply cooking a good meal together. Now that the trauma is over, enjoy the company of your family.
These are tips for healing from a family trauma. It’s going to take time, support, and adjustment. However, healing as a family is possible.