When a sudden, unanticipated catastrophe lands on your doorstep, there’s before and there’s after.
One day life is going on as it always has. The next day life deals you such a blow that nothing will ever be the same.
“It’s not supposed to be this way,” you wail. “How could this have happened? Someone, someone, please someone wake me from this horrific nightmare and tell me it’s all a dream.”
But no one does.
As the days pass, you realize that nothing, absolutely nothing, halts the ache in your heart. Nothing soothes the fear in your soul. Nothing drives your sadness away. So much has been lost. Not only material possessions but also irreplaceable memorabilia. Not only stuff but a sense of safety. And for some, the ultimate price, the loss of life.
Shock, bewilderment and confusion take up residence in your brain. You never anticipated anything like this. How can you possibly cope with the loss? All you want to do is crawl into bed and forget about it. But you have no bed. You have no home. You have no place to retreat to.
It’s impossible to imagine that just a short time ago, everything was just fine. But that was before. This is after.
There’s so much to deal with. You are overwhelmed. You are exhausted. You are depressed. No, depression is for people who have a gray cloud over their head. This is beyond depression; this is despair.
Each day is different. One day, emptiness and loneliness reign. Another day, anger and resentment erupt. Then, the following day, a melancholy crushes whatever get-up-and-go-spirit you had. You realize you have no idea how to go on.
Yet, you do go on. Though a part of you wants to give up, a bigger part of you wants to overcome. You may want to connect with compassionate friends or you may want to be alone. You may want to sleep your days away or you may want to keep busy. You may hunger for painkillers to numb you or you may want to suffer the pain. There is no right course; there is no proper path.
You have the right, even the obligation, to feel whatever you are feeling; to think whatever you are thinking; to do whatever you are doing. Though, right now, hope may seem to reside in another galaxy, next week hope will once again be part of your life, teaching you ways to survive this catastrophe.
Many people’s hearts and prayers are with you. Many individuals and organizations are ready to assist you. Let them assist you in whatever ways they can. Let their caring and support be a source of comfort. And give yourself time to heal.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Nov 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Sapadin, L. (2012). Hurricane Sandy: The Psychological Aftermath. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/20/hurricane-sandy-the-psychological-aftermath/