The last week and a half in Adelaide Hills, South Australia has been one of the most devastating and scary weeks of many people’s life. Fires have stretched throughout the Adelaide Hills burning around 12,500 hectares! The perimeter of the fire was around 224 km’s long.
I’ve never experienced something so close to my heart and I didn’t even see the fire from where I was. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those who were ‘on edge’ every day for almost 6 days wondering if the wind would change and their home would be in the line of the fire. My heart and thoughts go out to those who lost their homes, animals and land in this devastating natural disaster.
What do we do now? What do we say to people? How do we respond? Do we go straight back to work as though nothing has happened? What if I’m someone who lost my home, or a friend of someone who was going through this? Is it OK to talk about it? What if they get upset and then there’s awkwardness? It’s not that bad… no one died after all!….
And the list could go on. Questions! Thoughts! Comments! Feelings! Pain! Grief! Normal Life! Nightmares! Withdrawal! Change in relationships!
So what do we do now?
I have a heart to acknowledge the crap, the pain, the uncomfortable. I guess that’s why I do what I do. So yes! This situation is crap!
I spend some of my time working in retail and the other day I was looking up a rewards member and I noticed she was from One Tree Hill (an area the fire hit). The first thing that came out of my mouth was “Is your home OK?” As I said it, I noticed tears well up in me and she replied “Yes, thank you for asking.” That was the simple conversation between two strangers. It was at that point where I realised how much this fire had and was affecting me. Me? Someone who wasn’t affected at all, my home and life wasn’t in danger. So what does that mean? That doesn’t even make sense does it for me to be affected by this?
Yes, yes it does make sense. This is a natural response to tragedy, disaster, heart ache and pain going on around us. I have a connection to Adelaide and so it has affected me. I felt a similar way back in 2011 and 2013 during the Toowoomba Floods. I just cried and cried as I watched the footage on TV. I had a connection to the place, simply because I had travelled there several times while living in QLD. It is a natural human response to feel a shift in your body and emotions around these times. You may have felt it around the time of the Sydney Seige in December 2014, or when Philip Hughes died on the cricket field, or the plane crashes of 2014.
So what do we do with all of these thoughts and emotions going on inside of us?
Here are 4 things to get you started:
TALK – Talk to those around you. Share your experiences, what you were thinking and how you were feeling at different times. I have heard many stories from people directly affected by the bush fires. This is helpful for them to share and receive a listening ear. You can also share your heart and feelings too as you will notice a common ground between you. It’s always better out than in.
REST – Give yourself permission to have a day or two or ten off. Grief and dealing with these experiences will be different for everyone. Some people will move on and get straight back to life very quickly, others may take a little longer. There is no right or wrong way. You may feel like you need to sleep more, that’s OK too. Rest is a good way to let your heart, mind and body process the events.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF – Sometimes we can be our own worst critics. You might see others getting on with life and start to think “why can’t I ‘just get over it?'” “I should be back at work already, or getting back to normal life like everyone else”. If you are a taking a little longer, that is OK. It’s OK to not be OK. You are not alone in this journey.
SEEK FURTHER HELP – If you find you may need a little extra support on the journey, ask for help, it may be the best thing you ever do. Further help might be talking to your friends or family about this more. It may be helpful to see a counsellor to share what you’re experiencing. Or maybe you could join a support group where you can share what you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing in a safe environment with others who are going through the same thing. You do not need to go this road alone. In fact, it’s better with others.
So I hope that’s been a little helpful in some way. If you want further support you can contact me to have a chat and have some counselling, or you can click here for further organisations to help you out. Here is also a link that was written before the fire was contained but might be helpful too – Adelaide Hills Fire: Health Services on Offer.
Take Care on the Journey and remember you are not alone.
- Lutheran Community Care
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Australian Red Cross
Journeez Counselling and Training, Adelaide, are specialists in Self Care and learning to look after yourself in this fast-paced society. Please contact me today for further information about my Self Care workshops and seminars for businesses, churches or community groups or counselling . You are also welcome to join the Journeez community by subscribing to this blog above or follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Discovering Life to the Fullest.