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Post Traumatic Growth

Opportunities for Growth Following Tragedy

Dealing with tragedy will always be a tough pill to swallow. When someone goes through a traumatic experience it can seem like the world is ending. How can someone cope with great loss? How can someone find love again after betrayal? These questions seem unanswerable when going through tragedy, but as cliché, as it may sound, there is always a silver lining that’s Post Traumatic Growth. 

When experiencing a tragedy in life you have to allow yourself to go through and feel each emotion. Sometimes that entails reliving the trauma over and over in your head. Once the emotional roller coaster starts to slow, the next step is accepting that you can’t change what has happened. Many people who live through trauma struggle to try and move on and relive the moments day after day. This can be unhealthy and many may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when they can’t accept the tragedy. 

Post Traumatic Growth

It is okay to let yourself accept and feel, but we can not dwell on how we can change the past. When you let yourself let go and begin to move forward, this is called post-traumatic growth (PTG). You have to try and allow yourself to look at the bright side, even if at first it seems impossible. There are always opportunities waiting to be uncovered even after a crisis. 

Tragedy is an Emotional Roller Coaster

When someone first experiences a tragedy, the first initial emotion or response is to retreat and reject any emotion they start to feel. Without feeling and allowing the emotions to flood in we can never begin the healing process. On the contrary, people who allow their emotions to overflow and run their life can be unhealthy as well. 

Thankfully, there are many people and groups you can contact to help with the grieving process in a safe and healthy manner. Allowing yourself to feel and grieve paves the way for acceptance of what we can not change. This is the first step to any hard tragedy or battle we have to face in life. Don’t give yourself the option to stay in one emotion for too long.
Instead, allow yourself to feel it, accept it and move forward. 

Accepting the Tragedy   

Once we have allowed ourselves to feel each emotion and move forward, we can only then accept that we can’t change it. Oftentimes, when a traumatic event occurs, it is in our nature as humans to think of the ways we could have changed the outcome. Children tend to put the blame of divorcing parents on them. Wondering what they did to make mom and dad so unhappy. A parent will put the blame of their child’s addiction problem on how they parented. Constantly wondering what they could have done better to avoid this tragedy.

This type of mindset opens the floodgates for depression and PTSD. Talking with groups or individuals who have experienced similar tragedies can open the door to learning how to cope with these hardships. Once we can accept that what happened is written in stone, we can begin to grow.

Post Traumatic Growth (PTG)

Once going through all of the steps towards healing, it is time to explore post-traumatic growth. PTG comes once we are strong and ready enough to begin finding the good from the bad. This process can be hard and will bring up some old emotions. This is a completely normal reaction, just stay focused and optimistic. Trust the process. 

Here are some ways we can find peace from the tragedy:

  • Telling Your Story

There is always something positive that can come from a negative experience. Although it’s figuring out what that is that most people struggle with. Growing from your trauma can be as simple as speaking and sharing your story with others. As simple as this seems, others may find comfort in your words when they are experiencing the same tragedy. 

  • Write it Down

Maybe speaking or sharing your story doesn’t come naturally. Many people have a tough time being the face behind the story, but want to get their message out there to help others. Start by writing it down. This can be very therapeutic and can help with putting your emotions into words, ultimately helping your healing process.

Create a blog where you can share your experience and interact with others going through tragedy without speaking face to face. If you want to take it a step further, write a book. So many survivors of trauma have taken to writing to share their stories. This is a great way to help not only you grow but can help someone on their own journey. 

  • Change Your Scenery

It is hard to begin healing and growing when surrounded by others affected who don’t have the same mindset as you. Try to avoid surrounding yourself with people who have gone through similar experiences, but aren’t ready to move on. This can ultimately hurt your process, and set you back.

If you find it hard to move on with the people and scenery around you, try changing it. Take a soul searching trip to find yourself and find your spark. Allow this change of scenery to help heal you and find your purpose. Whether it’s on a beach in Costa Rica, or in a cabin in the mountains, this change will allow you to breathe and think more clearly. Allowing yourself to have fun and let loose can help in the growing process, when it is done in a safe way. 

  • Making Lemonade with Those Lemons

When tragedy happens it is incredibly difficult to keep your head up, and not allow yourself to stay down in the dump. After going through the steps of healing, a lot of the times tragedy can bring a better understanding or outlook on life. There are so many cases where someone diagnosed with cancer says it is the best thing that has ever happened to them. 

How you may ask? Instead of allowing the cancer to control their life, they take control. They allow themselves to live life to the fullest and in the moment. Things that may have been put on the back burner they finally give themselves the opportunity and motivation to do them. People who have gone through great tragedy usually have a better appreciation for life.  

Take Your Time

Growing from grief and tragedy is a slow process, and no journey is the same as the next. Give yourself the necessary time you feel needed to grieve and feel the emotions. Be patient and trust the healing process, because it will only help you thrive in the long run. Find the best way for you to cope with the tragedy and allow yourself to bloom. Whether you’re sharing your story through speeches or blogs, learn what works best for you and watch yourself grow from these tragedies.