Coping with Devastating Experiences

Life happens. Every single human being will encounter devastating experiences at various times. Some people will live through war or terrorist attacks. Some will struggle with serious illness and medical procedures. Many will survive the loss of a loved one. Car accidents, assault, sudden injury, failure, serious financial loss, family crisis, personal crisis, divorce, devastating diagnosis, birth of a severely challenged child – the list of overwhelming life challenges is seemingly endless.

At times like these, many people go deep into themselves, withdrawing from friends and family. Their pain may be too deep for words. Their ability to cope – just to get through each day – is compromised. Sometimes they will barely be able to function. Often, sleep is disrupted, adding another level of mental and physical stress. Family relationships may also be compromised as emotional overwhelm takes its toll on patterns of communication and interaction.

Coping with Devastating Experiences

Counselling can help. Counselling can significantly reduce the stress caused by overwhelming life events. Professional counselors know how to bear witness to the deepest pain that human beings can experience; they can break the cycle of isolation and despair. Many counsellors utilize specialized interventions (like EMDR or EFT – see articles on this site) that can help restore emotional calm, clarify thinking, quiet the nervous system and make way for productive action.

Seeking counselling during times of intense stress can help reduce suffering. It can prevent dependence on unhealthy coping mechanisms like addictive substances or habits. It can prevent a build-up of intolerable emotion such as uncontrollable rage or unremitting grief. It can also help prevent the occurrence of stress-related physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pain, compromised immune functioning, back ache and so on. As we all know, untreated stress tends to land in the muscles and organs of our bodies where it only adds to our problems. By clearing stress out of our systems, we can improve our health and functioning immeasurably. We can also improve our ability to deal with our difficult situations in healthy and truly productive ways.