It Takes A Village: The Secret To Overcoming A Traumatic Life Event

When I was growing up, I always heard the saying it takes a village to raise a child. And I’ve been lucky to live in a ‘village’ that was impactful. My Mom was a single parent raising me, and I am sure for her it was a great relief to have the support of so many. It meant an ease from being stressed and overwhelmed, raising a child all alone; it allowed her time to create balance, thrive, and do significant things like taking a class or attending a meeting. It also showed her that people around us really cared. For me, it was valuable time away from her to be spoiled by my aunties and uncles.

When I lost my Mom in 2010, I did not think I had a village at all. There were two or three people that knew what I endured on a daily basis, but beyond that, the well-wishers who were offering their condolences had no clue. The thing is, I did have a village, maybe not to the scale I would have liked. Those two or three people were my village! Even the ones who well-wished from the sidelines also played a part because at the end of the day they awakened me to how far removed some of us are from showing empathy; they taught me how not to act when people are in crisis. I can honestly say that during the time of my loss, I lost my faith in the ‘village.’

However, this past month has proven different for my daunted perspective. I’ve seen the village in action, and it was quite unlike anything I’ve seen in recent years. Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring the ‘village’ together to let folk know they are loved and supported. I am a sucker for emotions, so it always gets me when I see us sticking up for each other. This compassion for each other warms my heart.

I’ve marveled in silence, as a village of twenty plus individuals came together to rally around a loved one in need. And in the midst of all of it, I was also able to contribute in ways that I joke about forever with my famous line…”I’m not signing up for that.” My faith in humanity restored!

I can’t give much more details than what I already have, (this story, of course, is private and not mine to tell), but trust when I say that unity comes when grief is present. You may be wondering why this is so surprising to me. Well, I hear all too often that us humans are never there for each other, and we can’t unite in the face of tragedy, yet, a single mother in crisis is lifted up by members of her community, family, friends, friends of friends, even strangers. From my point of view, this happens less frequently than I think it should, or maybe I am just not aware.

For many individuals, accepting help from others is exceptionally difficult. We all like to believe we are strong, independent people, fully capable of taking care of ourselves.  Receiving support can be exceptionally tough because it requires vulnerability and a level of openness that we almost never want to admit. The mantra of many people suffering in silence is “I’m good or Leave me alone!” This form of denial prolongs the healing journey. By pushing others away, they avoid admitting that they need help and deny an opportunity to change their current situation.

To a person in recovery or healing, having the support of a village provides much more than you’d ever know. Everyone that is part of the ‘village’ can assume a different role and responsibility in the collective effort of ensuring the individual gets back to their best self. To that person, it means less stress emotionally, mentally, physically. The accountability provided by members of the village is priceless and a tremendous help to reaching milestones and ultimately their recovery success.  There is organization and meal prep; providing transportation; acting as a surrogate for the kids either part/full time until the parent can resume responsibilities. It means keeping the daily routine intact while the incapacitated person focuses on their healing.

Someone once said to me that we need to show more empathy and compassion. I fully agree! We have no clue what we can do for someone else in need, especially those with long-term needs.

I feel honored for the opportunity to serve in any village. It takes collective action, willingness, and empathy to make it a successful entity. The role that friends, family, and therapists play in the rehabilitation, treatment and recovery stages lay the foundation for the journey toward full recovery.

If you’re confused as to how to contribute to someone in need, just show up! Bring pies, cake, games, offer to run errands, whatever is within your ability. Do your part to foster human connection. These small acts of kindness make a huge difference to someone in recovery. Cheers to the good souls in the world who are keeping the village alive.

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