Today at Bellator, we are reflecting on the hard topics of grief and trauma. Becca Ryun shares with us such wisdom from the lessons she has learned from her own trauma.
Jesus wants us to be loved through the crosses of this life, but most importantly he wants to share with us His Victory.
These are some things I’ve learned from trauma:
I am absolutely and obviously no expert on the subject of trauma or difficulties in life. I have had a good and easy life, filled with love and happiness for the most part. In comparison to the trials and trauma and devastating loss of others, I almost feel completely unqualified to share my thoughts on the subject-almost.
With that being said, here they are, in no particular order:
1. Do not attempt to compare your life struggles with the struggles of others around you (as I just did above 🙄🤦🏼♀️).
As the person trying to encourage or help someone going through trauma, whatever you do, do NOT try to relate to them by bringing up similar stress in your past that doesn’t really compare, even if you say, “I know it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through…”
For example: when we had Charlotte 4 months premature, I cannot tell you how many people (with really good intentions) said something along the lines of, “I understand how hard this is because our son/daughter was in the NICU for a week after being born with an [infection] [4 weeks premature] [jaundice]…” or when I was devastated with each setback that prolonged her stay, “at least she’s alive! Focus on the positive!” I have been guilty of doing this many times too…I don’t know what it is that sucks me into responding in this way except a deep need to let the hurting one know that I can relate to their pain.
Just please actively try not to do this.
There are circumstances when it’s okay and welcomed. For example: if someone just lost a child and you too have lost a child. If someone has a family member who is getting treated for cancer and you too have had/have a family member go through this. If someone just miscarried their baby and you too have miscarried. If someone is in deep depression and you too have struggled with depression…it IS important to have the support of people who can directly relate to what you’re going through. It is also important to have support while going through trauma from people who have never experienced what you’re going through. They are both equally important with different roles.
This is most often a silent demon. People who are struggling with depression will rarely share that they are depressed and sometimes not even really know themselves.
For example: when I was struggling with postpartum depression I didn’t know in the moment what was going on. I was disappointed with myself for not being able to function on the level in my mind that I was before and had a hard time connecting with people. The brain is such a complex amazing thing.
The other day I had an EEG and (because I’m a healthy individual) had no idea what this really entailed but I found myself hooked up to a bunch of probes and at one point, when they were sending signals through those probes to my brain, randomly my lip started twitching. It was so crazy. I was trying to hold my mouth still, telling it in my head to stop moving but my brain was sending it the wrong signals.
I think of depression a little like that.
Your brain can be sending wrong signals due to an imbalance of chemistry in your body, and you need medicine to help keep it from misfiring. Some things you can watch for in yourself and in friends around you: are they withdrawing without an obvious reason? Are they losing weight/gaining weight without seeming to try? Are they apathetic? When they do interact are they deflecting from talking about themselves? A lot of times (not always) people with depression are the funniest most entertaining people in the room. They don’t want people to know their struggle so they work extra hard to deflect. That’s not to say everyone who is funny or the life of the party is depressed! But just to say, depression is way more than skin deep.
3. Take. Them. A. Meal.
Do not ask. Just do it.
Leave it on their porch so they don’t feel the need to tidy their house or themselves. Make something that reheats or freezes easily. Bring it in disposable pans if possible but if not, better to bring it in things they will have to return eventually than not bring it at all, but if that’s the case, bring it in dishes you won’t miss and don’t need back right away. Don’t go over the top with the meal. I mean, it wouldn’t be horrible if you did, but remember this isn’t necessarily about JUST feeding a body.
It’s also about making them feel loved and seen. That their struggle, hurt, trauma, sickness, isn’t insignificant to you. Just do it.
4. Write a handwritten card and put it in the mail.
This one is the hardest for me for some reason. I am the worst about doing this or even thinking to do this, but from personal experience, this has meant the world to me.
Pray. Pray. Pray believing.
6. Understand that everyone has different roles in helping friends/family get through difficult times.
Don’t kill yourself trying to do everything and being all things. What is your role? Is it a handwritten card? Is it prayer? Is it a homemade meal?
Becca Ryun, friend of Bellator Society, writes from Purcellville, VA. She is a wife and mother of four children and manages their life at Elysium, the family farm.
We are so thankful for Becca and the beauty that she pours into our world through her Christian witness.
We love you, Becca
Tracy & Fran