The Calder Valley, along with many other areas, was at the receiving end of Mother Nature after Christmas. I watched the water rise through my cellar feeling it was inevitable that my home would be invaded by a force I couldn’t stop. I was very fortunate – the water stopped rising and my main room stayed dry. Many other homes & businesses were destroyed. What happened next was an amazing community effort. People from far & wide and those much closer to home got stuck in to deal with the damage. There has been so much positive action throughout the Valley to restore living & business conditions. To return to a feeling of normality. It’s our human nature to cope with the disaster in a practical way. We use the adrenaline rush to get things organised whilst we ‘park’ our feelings somewhat. Practical support is very important. Having heat, light and hot meals. We can start to feel that we have survived.
It’s less easy to reduce that ‘will it happen again?’ thought at the back of the mind every time it rains. To keep half an ear out for the flood siren. So the stress remains. However, we gradually find we can sleep easier in our beds again. The tension eases a bit and we breath once again. It’s at this point that the sense of loss emerges. Along with the reactions to being under a great stress. The sense of loss affects all of our community, even those who stayed completely dry. We have all seen our towns & neighbourhoods piled high with wet, muddy possessions. We all know someone who has lost so much. We may even feel guilty that we stayed dry.
Any loss involves feeling shock, disbelief, anger, guilt, depression, despair, fear and sadness. Thoughts can spin out of control. Sometimes a numbness sets in when we are too exhausted to process any more. These are our natural responses to change – something has to go so something else can be gained. Eventually we will all benefit from positives that occur after the floods e.g. the immense community spirit that has been shown. In the meantime it’s important to get support to deal with the stress and sense of loss. One of the best ways I know to get through the emotional & mental aftermath is to find someone to talk to. A listening ear from a friend, volunteer, holistic therapist or, sometimes, a stranger, can provide a safe space to acknowledge how much the loss has affected you.
It may seem that spending a little time on yourself is at odds with trying to get life moving forward again. There is a physical impact from continuing to be stressed. Too much adrenaline is damaging over time. Pushing feelings aside for too long also adds to the stress we experience. So taking an hour for rest, relaxation and reflection is a sensible measure. At my Centre we are very used to listening. We offer holistic treatments and groups alongside a Drop In where you can have a cuppa & a chat. Or sit in a quiet space if talking about what has happened is still too raw. If you prefer to do something more specific we offer group meditation, Reiki & stress busting.
If you have had a traumatic event or a bereavement give yourself permission to take the time out you need to emotionally and mentally process what has happened to you. Find the place where you can get the right kind of assistance for you. Encourage your family and friends to do the same. If we remember to support each other through this too, together we will recover.
This article first appeared in Valley Life in February 2016