Understanding trauma can be difficult. What constitutes trauma is in the eye of the beholder. To some, breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend is traumatic while to others, it is not. To some getting in a serious car wreck is traumatic while to others it is not.
If you or your loved one has experienced trauma you might have a confusing experience. After experiencing trauma, survivors need others more than ever as they try to healing, however, their traumatic symptoms often alienate, isolate and take them away from loved ones. This can seem confusing to both them and their loved ones.
Not everyone knows how to express their need for others after they experience trauma. Also, not all loved ones know how to see past symptoms that seem to push them away. Knowing when to reach out to your loved one and when to give them space is important. Researches and therapists have found over the years that there is a great benefit for trauma survivors derived from strong family and marital support (i.e., Bessel van der Kolk’s ‘The Body Keeps a Score…’). In fact, the quality of an individual’s attachment to others is a critical factor in whether or not someone develops long-term traumatic issues instead of just short-term traumatic issues. Your family and spouse matter.
So how do you talk with them and connect? Simply start by talking with them. Instead of avoiding it because it seems to upset them, talk with them and let them know you are here for them. Even if you don’t talk about the events (in some cases its actually better to not talk with them yet about their traumatic event) you can let them know that you love them, support them, are here for them and want to continue to be here for them. Knowing that you are there for them helps them tremendously. Eventually, and sometimes only with the help of a counselor, they can come around and start to heal with you.