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How Grief and Trauma Work

Written By: Lauren Howard



My dad used to tell a story to explain how grief and trauma work.


It has helped me understand a lot of the hard things we've been through.


During World War II, children in England were moved to the countryside to keep them safe from bombings. Children were protected by staying with family or hosts in rural areas that were not targets.


Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud, was running an institute for children in England at the time.


She studied the behavior of the kids who were relocated. They assumed that by moving them to a safe place, they would play and want to forget everything they had seen in such a hostile and dangerous environment.


Instead, the kids took blocks and built buildings, and repeatedly "bombed" them with toy planes. They reconstructed what they were just removed from rather than escaping it.


That's how the brain deals with grief and trauma. It plays it over and over until it's boring.


It deconstructs it, reevaluates it, puts it back together, looks at it in new perspectives, and replays it from every possible angle.


As it gets less interesting, your brain lets you move on more and more, even if you have reminders regularly.


Sometimes, it doesn't get less interesting enough on its own, and that's where treatment and good help come in.


But that impulse to sit and ruminate and wallow when all you want to do is turn off your brain? That's the way it's supposed to work.


You can't outrun grief and trauma. You will either relive through it now or later.


Grief is normal after losing a job or even voluntarily leaving a job. Ask me about collapsing on my office floor after I resigned from a job entirely voluntarily.


Workplace trauma is also real. Toxic environments and difficult situations create real trauma responses. It's not "just work”.


If you can't figure out why this thing that happened at "just a job" is still replaying in your head endlessly, maybe remember you're a human and your brain is trying to do you a solid.


And there is a whole community who is here for you if you need them.



 


Founder & CEO at elletwo



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