I think I’m still in shock over the horrible events that occurred in my town recently. Orlando is my home. There’s no perfect place. Sure. But so much violence in such a short period of time? No one is accustomed to that – at least not in the western hemisphere.
I’m familiar with the feeling of shock. I don’t like it. Who does?
Shock swept over me the first time my daughter, Renee (connected with twloha.com), cut herself. Then again when self-injury became a serious habit a few years later. Shock struck again when it became obvious Renee really did have a drinking problem, then a drug problem. The realization that my daughter needed rehab was unbelievable to me. Shock hit like a tidal wave with each phone call that told of her suicide attempts – her hospitalizations.
Each time was like being slammed to the ground, having the wind knocked out of me. Stunned, the feeling lingered for days – weeks. Disbelief hovered overhead like a cloud, sheltering me in a protective, numbing shroud. I went through my days in a fog, present in body, but not much else.
Have you felt like this on the journey with your child? Maybe it was the phone call telling you of their arrest? Or when you discovered drugs in their room. Maybe it was the day they told you they were pregnant or their girlfriend was. Or the night they informed you they thought they were gay and were moving out to be with their partner.
How can we help ourselves when we’re in shock? Is there anything we can do to make it a little better? Yes. I think there is.
3 things that can help when you’re in shock:
1) Cry out to God.
“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children . . . (Lamentations 2:19)”. On those nights when I counted thousands of sheep yet still couldn’t sleep, I got up and read uplifting books (my Bible was one) and I prayed my brains out. Sometimes I worked on a project around the house while I prayed. I also asked others to pray. Their prayers were a lifeline and made a huge difference. Did you know there are call centers with trained people who will listen and encourage you around the clock, 24/7, even on holidays? (hopefortheheart.org)
2) Find help.
I let others into my pain (very slowly – we only need a few); Our first reaction in this state is to withdraw and isolate. We need to fight against that and reach out, so others can be with us. Community. In the church we call this fellowship. Bearing one another’s burdens. Ask God for a few friends who can be there for you. You might meet one at a support group. (email us for help finding one near you or online)
3) Be easy on yourself.
We torture ourselves wondering if it’s our fault? What did we do wrong? Could we have prevented this? No one is perfect. We did our best. Learn to refuse guilt and not hide in shame. Whatever was our part, we have to accept and ask forgiveness – but that will come later. In the beginning we tend to keep our problems a secret, but it only makes us feel worse.
Please, be kind to yourself. You’re in shock! You need comfort. When someone’s in physical shock medical professionals make them sit down and relax. Here’s a blanket and some water. Please sit down and rest. Try to be calm. Breathe deeply.
What about the average person? In my experience, we aren’t so good at comforting one another. But I believe we can learn. We can do better.
It’s important that we try.
It matters. How you feel when you’re in shock – it matters.
Because you matter.
We need each other. We really do.
The comfort, understanding, grace, and listening ear another human being can offer is gold.
A hug, a gentle touch on the shoulder, an empathetic smile, a shared tear, an email or text or phone call or card expressing compassion are invaluable gifts.
Most of all we need God, the ultimate Healer. His Son, Jesus, was wounded for our wholeness. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).”
He gave himself so that we could survive the shocking experiences of our lives.
Bring to Him all that’s broken and lost. He understands. He cares.
And in your shock, remember – You Are Not Alone.
*My book, You are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids comes out July 19th!!! You can pre-order it now here on our website or from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many more places once it’s released. I’m so excited! It’s going to be a great help for you. I’ll be talking more about it in the coming weeks.