As we reach year three of experiencing catastrophic fires in our community, our neighbors in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties are entering year one. How can we--whether we are new to disaster or becoming well versed in them--support those we know, and even those we don't know so well, in our collective recovery?
Looking at the graphic below, we can see that over the first few years the impacted community will go through a series of emotional ups and downs on their way to a new normal.
There are a number of anticipated physical, emotional and mental reactions individuals experience as discussed in this blog post (Part I) and this blog post (Part II), but I wanted to spend some time focusing on the larger picture, because sections of our populations will be riding through what is mostly considered a necessary path to a stronger future.
Also, having information about our likely path can help us prevent what is known in the mindfulness circles as "the second arrow." This is the pain and suffering that can arise through our reactions to already painful events. Understanding that what we're experiencing is a natural part of the process for most can help us not judge ourselves or our process so harshly.
Since trauma can show up in different ways, including irritability, isolation, substance overuse, and more, the reverberation of trauma affects not only those surviving it, but all those they touch.
Honoring our unique journey with as much love, compassion and kindness--not denying any phase--is the most loving thing we can do not only for ourselves, but for our community as a whole.
JoAnn Saccato, MA is a mindfulness teacher, author, life coach, educator, and consultant in Northern California. She is author of Companioning the Sacred Journey and the forthcoming Mindful and Intentional Living: A Path to Peace, Clarity and Freedom