CJL Blog: Staying Aware

The Insider to Trauma, Substance and Relationships

Helping a Loved One Through Trauma

Unfortunately, we are living in a time where violence has become the answer.   I will be the first to admit, the last few months have been an emotional time for me. The violence in my city has increased at a concerning rate.  Today’s events added to my list of concerns for those close and far.

I am a huge fan of FREEHUGS Project. In his video, I watched the most horrific and inhumane event takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia, my heart ached for those harmed, taken before their time, the people who saw the event, and the loved ones who lost someone.

Who will offer these people with the emotionally and mentally supportive during this time?  Unfortunately, everyone will not seek out professional help for many reasons. Instead, they will lean on the shoulders of a loved one, a friend or someone trustworthy.  

Trauma is not an easy topic to educate people on due to the many different experiences that can cause trauma. Losing someone is very traumatic. Those who have watched the video, were present when the event occurred, those who heard about the event and those who are having challenges with understanding why this occurred (Our children. Often, we forget, they are watching the videos on social media).  What can you do?

In a few words as possible, it is my motivation to explain ways to help someone who is suffering from trauma as a family and friend. Before, I begin, I must say my disclosure, this does not take away the importance of having a mental health professional assist. 

Here are the Four Most important ways you can help a person dealing with trauma.

Be emotionally supportive

Be present with them in that moment. Allow that person to cry out his or her pain, scream or held in that moment. Or give them space to have the emotional response, but still be close with them.

Listening (stay silent)

Processing is important. Talking out what has occurred helps with the moving forward in the process. Trauma needs to time.  There are no deadlines for any form of trauma. Be ready to listen. But refer to number 4 in this list.

Find a healthy distraction

After a while help them find healthy distraction such as walking, watching a movie (comedy preferred) or taking a drive.

Always encourage professional health

Seeking a professional is important. As the friend or family member, you do not want to put in a position of feeling emotionally stuck.  Taking in another's trauma can cause an emotional response for the helper.   Therefore, it becomes important to encourage them to seek help to learn proper coping skills, to process feelings and thoughts associated with the event, and work through any history of trauma.

I send my condolences to the family and friends in Charlottesville, Virginia and everywhere, where violence has taken control. Take care of one another.



Elaine Smith