“A new normal” – 10 things learned about trauma

This post is of general interest.

Recently, I saw an online magazine article called “A new normal.”  The online magazine, “catapult,” is a Christian publication; it “fosters collaborative thought on practically living out faith in all areas of life and inspires hopefulness and action through the experience of community.”  I don’t find this article very religious, which is why I’m sharing it here.

There are not a lot of details about the writer, Catherine Woodiwiss.
She writes on faith, policy, and culture.

The author lists the ten things she learned from experiencing trauma.  We aren’t told what kind of trauma the author experienced.

It resonated with me in terms of dealing with the trauma of a loved one’s death.  It may resonate with many of you in different ways — whether you be a care giver or care recipient.

Here are the ten things the author learned:  (with details on a couple)

1.  Trauma permanently changes us.

2.  Presence is always better than distance.

3.  Healing is seasonal, not linear.

4.  Surviving trauma takes “firefighters” and “builders.” Very few
people are both.

5.  Grieving is social, and so is healing.

6.  Do not offer platitudes or comparisons. Do not, do not, do not.

“I’m so sorry you lost your son, we lost our dog last year…” “At
least it’s not as bad as…” “You’ll be stronger when this is over.”
“God works in all things for good!”

When a loved one is suffering, we want to comfort them. We offer
assurances like the ones above when we don’t know what else to say. But from the inside, these often sting as clueless, careless or just plain false.

Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us and just let it be terrible for a while.

7.  Allow those suffering to tell their own stories.

8.  Love shows up in unexpected ways.


9.  Whatever doesn’t kill you…


There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.

10.  …Doesn’t kill you.

The short article is worth reading in its entirety.  See:


A new normal
by Catherine Woodiwiss
catapult Magazine, vol. 13, num. 1, January 2014