Aftermath Of Violence: Trauma Marks a Soul

The recent spate of apparent suicides connected to school shootings should be a wake up call.  

Not that everyone who survives trauma may follow suit.  

But every soul who survives trauma struggles-no matter what it looks like from the outside.  

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975…That was a long time ago but it’s wrong what they say about the past….Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.

~ Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Witnessing or experiencing horror scars a heart.  And society rarely does a good job making room for the kind of work it takes for that heart to even begin to heal.

Feel-good news stories about activism, heroism and turning tragedy into triumph send a signal that if you can’t “get over it“, “overcome” or “become stronger” in the wake of the most awful day of your life, you aren’t trying hard enough.

But the truth is that most people DO try. 

They try and try and try but trying isn’t enough.  Tragedy and trauma change a person and no matter how much they may want to go back to the “old” them, they just can’t. 

And that is OK. 

trauma image

We must allow survivors to take as long as they take and to adjust their lives however they can.  We need to stop insisting that there’s a time limit on grief or that there is an absolute upward trajectory in recovery.

I don’t know what drove these individuals to die by suicide.  

But I do know that as a society we are not tolerant of people who don’t “deal” with their “issues” and live a life accepted as “normal”.

And that is not only unhelpful, it’s despicable.  

No one has the right to shut down another person’s voice or circumscribe another heart’s journey.  

We need to do better.  

We have to create safe spaces for people to admit they are fundamentally and permanently changed by a traumatic experience.  

We have got to make room for messy and unfinished stories.  

loving people with ptsd

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

11 thoughts on “Aftermath Of Violence: Trauma Marks a Soul”

  1. I am a survivor of the Santa Fe High School mass shooting May 18, 2018. My heart IS scarred. I lost students and friends (teachers) on that day……not to mention the unimaginable pain of watching this all unfold right in front of me. Your article is so healing to me. I have been trying since May to “get over it” like everyone keeps telling me, but it isn’t that easy. It’s nice to hear that this is “normal” and OK and it may take time. As we approach the anniversary of the shooting, I am scared. I don’t want to feel all the pain all over again, but I am mostly scared for my students and how they will react. I will be strong for THEM. Thank you for your words of comfort for us all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do not in any way want to suggest a “right” way to approach this awful anniversary but may I suggest that allowing your students to witness your own vulnerability could be a good thing? I’m convinced that often youth and children hide their struggle because they assume it’s abnormal since most of the adults around them rarely mention their own. I cannot relate precisely to your experience but can very much relate to sudden and violent death. I’ve made a point of being vulnerable in front of my surviving children so, hopefully, they will invite me to share their pain and not hide it. Praying for you dear heart as you approach this awful milestone. May the Lord give you strength and may you hear Him whisper courage to your soul. God bless you for staying and not running away. Your continuing presence lends strength to your students. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your kind words. I have relied on God to get me through these days and I know He will be there with me as we move forward. I never thought about being vulnerable in front of my students. I always try to be strong for them, but what you said makes perfect sense. I think we will all be reacting in different ways as we go through this anniversary. I pray for my students daily. I know they struggle more than I will ever know. Those precious souls saw more than anyone should ever have to experience. Thank you again for your article and for your prayers for us.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, I suffer from PTSD. Watching my daughter die in ICU was very traumatic. Even today that movie runs in my mind. It’s less traumatic than it use to, but the horror is still there. Many of us need professional to help and that needs be put out there. You don’t go through this mess on your own. I was able to use cognitive therapy to soften its blow, but not all can do that. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie, Your posts always seem to be timely for my journey. On March 27,2018 my oldest son Andrew (forever 16) ran ahead to Heaven by his own hand. My 14 year old was the first to find him. I too suffer PTSD from that nightmare as I was there as well. My youngest will never open up about his feelings, but I know he has got to be struggling with flashbacks and haunting memories of that horrible night. He refuses counselling, but due to your post I will now be spending time researching PTSD so I am prepared to better help him.
    Much love to you and thank you for being so open about your journey. Your words have helped me immensely through the past year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry dear one. I’m thankful the post helps your heart. We will carry these scars for a lifetime. May the Lord strengthen and equip you to endure and to help your precious son. ❤️


    1. It’s a silent struggle most people are never aware of. May the Lord give you the strength to endure and may He flood grace into every relationship and every situation. I definitely look forward to bed many days as well. Just to be able to rest a little and start over tomorrow. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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