When everything in your life changes suddenly, and someone or something you thought you could not live without, is gone…you’re left standing, shaken and wondering what to do next. We are living in a time of continuing loss, and for some, great grief.
In a single moment, for instance, between two gasps for breath, on September 11th everything became suddenly different. We lost a sense of safety. We lost loved ones. We lost the belief that we were invincible and protected. Reports tell us that this event did little to impact our current economy, but how has this energy of loss continued its affect on us? Homes are being lost, partners are being lost, businesses, savings, stocks, safety, trust and peace of mind are all still being lost. Life as we have lived it in the past will never again be the same and we are not at all certain about our future. For many, this is a time filled with anxiety, fear and for some, a petrifying immobility. Unless we are careful, we can move into flight, fight, freeze or succumb, much in the same way that we might in any other traumatic situation.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, Suzanne Thompson, professor of Psychology at Pomona College in Claremont CA, and her research assistants interviewed 501 people, who were not direct victims of 9/11, in the second year following the attacks (September 2002 to July 2003) and focused on feelings of distress (anxiety, loss of control, personal vulnerability) and fear of flying. “The results have important implications,” explains Thompson. “A significant number of Americans, years later, are still experiencing increased anxiety, loss of control, and concerns about their safety. This suggests that distress is not gradually dissipating in the general public and the long-term effects are more widespread than is usually recognized.”
However, it is not our circumstances that are to be feared the most. It is a loss of faith in ourselves. Add that to our resistance to change and we have the combination that can ultimately do us in. At some point, we did surrender all that trying to figure it out, the whys and wherefores, the brainstorming, examining and re-examining of facts and alternatives. Having moved through the stages of the death, the death of our sense of safety, we faced our denial, our anger, the bargaining, the depression and we made it to acceptance. We get it. Not one of us can do a thing to change the circumstances of the issue. We have now become saner and more realistic, freeing our energy up with some acceptance and a small sigh of relief that we are still standing. This is how we react to every loss and crisis.