How to Handle Trauma

Thank you to all those of you who've been praying for my dad. It isn't easy to cope when someone you love is in a coma, or not able to communicate with you. I've been through this with a friend before, and it's very stressful. That said, I've also been in a coma myself so I know that however stressful it is for me - or the family, or Dad's friends - it is way more stressful for him.

Rather than just feel sorry for myself (which helps nobody), I thought I'd try to be honest about this experience while I'm going through it, so that I can try to help anyone else going through something similar. Dad would expect me to do something like this, and I can't let him down. 

If you're going through trauma...

  1. Keep going. Breaking down is not an option when other people depend on you. As long as there is hope, there is work to do. Be honest and practical about what Covey calls your 'circle of influence'. What CAN you do? 
    • I can ask people to pray. 
    • On occasion, I am allowed to see my dad. 
    • I can look after my mum. 
    • I can take care of myself so that I'm strong enough to be there for my dad.
  2. Expect nothing. When my brother died, people who'd been there for me all my life disappeared. My best friend never contacted me again. Expect nothing of the people around you. It's not about you. They have their own issues. Many people talk up a good game when it comes to supporting others, but flake out the moment you need them. My brother used to like the expression 'friends are like parachutes. If they are not there for you the first time you need them, chances are you won't be needing them again.' Even family members can sometimes fall into this category. Don't get involved with it. You have enough on your plate.
  3. Wonderful things can happen. Miracles can, and do, happen. There are other good things that happen too, though. The flip side of point '2'. Some of the people you least expect to be there for you, will be there. I can't overstate how supportive some of my Twitter friends have been. Some have been more supportive than 'real world' friends or, even, family. 
I hope this helps someone. There's loads more I could probably put, but I've got to rush off and see Dad. Keep saying prayers and sending positive messages.


Marisa Birns  – (4 October 2010 at 12:42)  

It is amazing that in the middle of the stress you and your family are experiencing, you take the time to offer these thoughts that will help people in need.

Thank you, Rebecca. Sending prayers and positive messages to your dad. And sending thoughts of strength to you and your mum.

April J Harris  – (4 October 2010 at 22:51)  

So sorry to hear your Dad is so ill, and that you and your mum are going through such a difficult time. Sending prayers and positive thoughts.

Mark Wilson  – (6 October 2010 at 07:26)  

Thank you for your post. I'm praying for your father. When my mother passed last Thanksgiving, I wish I had the little bit of advice you give in lesson #2. I had to learn about this the hard way. I overcame these initial feelings of hurt though. I also found (as in lesson #3) who was really there for me and our bond has become even greater than ever before. May God touch your father and help you and your family cope during this time of distress.

Jane Henry  – (6 October 2010 at 08:09)  

Sorry to hear your dad is so ill. Hoping you get a miracle.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (7 October 2010 at 17:27)  

Marisa, thank you for your kindness and support.

21st Century Housewife, thank you so much.

Mark, thank you. I'm sorry you went through that when your mother passed, but I hope you feel some comfort knowing this happens to others.

Jane, thank you.

Debbie  – (8 October 2010 at 01:46)  

I will certainly keep praying for your entire family.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (15 February 2011 at 15:49)  


Forgot I wrote this post. I need to put here - for any latecomers - that it is now February 2011, Dad is out of the coma, at home, working out with the Wii Fit so that when his friend comes over from Switzerland in the spring, he can beat him at golf.

Thanks for all the prayers. Miracles happen. xxx

Rebecca Woodhead  – (21 May 2011 at 15:39)  


It's now May 2011: Dad's friend came over from Switzerland. Dad played golf for the first time. Loved it!

katahdinme  – (21 May 2011 at 18:29)  

Friendship may be based on mutual advantage.

Love by contrast may be a difficult affair, as in "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" or that marriage thing about "for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health."

Trauma in another may evoke fear in the observer (as hitting too close to home), or anger that the traumatized does not "just suck it up" ... or befuddled disbelief as if there were no common frame of reference.

Or at least those are my observations to all appearance.

P.S. Glad your Dad came back.

Claire L Brown  – (14 July 2011 at 13:07)  

I totally agree with what you've said. I just lost my dad 7 weeks ago after a long illness. I have first hand experience of point two! I think some people don't know what to say and end up ignoring you andthe situation

Sally Townsend  – (13 March 2012 at 06:29)  

So pleased to hear that miracles do happen, loved the post and so agree with what your brother said about friends, if they are not there for you the first time they won't be there again. Amazing how some just 'melt away' especially after years of friendship.

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