By: Makayla Danielle

Navigating Life after Tragedy

Tragedy looks different for all of us. For some, it’s a mass shooting. Others may experience tragedy through sickness, a “freak accident”, or some other form of loss. No one’s story is the same, but for everyone the world you go back to after tragedy is full of unknowns and uncertainty.

Before a traumatic experience, the world around you may seem certain. You know what to expect because you have yet to experience anything that tells you otherwise. The drive to work, the sounds surrounding you, the people you interact with, are all the same and sometimes even predictable. But when tragedy strikes, suddenly your entire world is upended.

Sounds affect you differently now, the people around you have changed, you have to navigate an entirely new world and there is no handbook on how to do that. So what do you do with this new world you’re living in?

You take each day as it comes.

There is no timeline. Don’t compare your journey to the journey of others. Learn what works for you as you embark into this unknown world. 

Small steps lead to big changes. Getting out of bed is an accomplishment that takes strength. Be proud of that. Don’t force yourself to accomplish big tasks if your mind can’t handle it yet. Do the small things first and learn how to get through each day. Once you get through each day you’ll look back and realize you made it through the week, the month, the year. 

Some tragedies bring loss. With loss comes grief. Feel that emotion but also remember that your loved ones would not want you to miss out on life when they’re gone. Live a life they would want you to live. Speak their name and tell their story to keep their memory alive. Love how they loved. Live how they lived. Pain will always be there, but maybe some solace will come knowing that they are smiling down on you, so proud of the strength you found within you.

With trauma comes new triggers. What was never an issue before has now become a daily struggle. Certain sounds may set off a “fight or flight” response, uncertainty now causes depression, getting through each day is harder than ever. It’s important to be kind to yourself.

Your experiences have affected you in ways that most people say they can only imagine, but really, they can’t. Don’t expect your healing to happen overnight. 

Allow yourself the time to feel the emotions of what happened to you. Then find out what YOU need to heal. If this means surrounding yourself with friends who understand, then do that. If it means moving and taking life by the reigns, do that. If it means therapy and discovering your purpose and passions, do that. Don’t apologize for doing what needs to be done for you to face your problems and heal your mind and soul. 

You are not the same person anymore, and that is okay. You are stronger, wiser, more compassionate and understanding. No one wishes to experience trauma, but sometimes there are hidden blessings. New found courage, quality friendships, stronger bonds with loved ones, a movement to change the world with love. It is hard to see a light in the darkness, but it is there.

Tragedy has affected us all. We are all learning and growing. There is no timeline or guidebook on healing. How you choose to navigate through this new world is up to you. You do your best and that is enough. Be kind to yourself and know that you can, and you will, survive.

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