After my husband was paralyzed from the waist down in an attempted armed robbery, it became apparent that this was not just going to affect him. The trauma affected the whole family.
We've had to re-distribute chores. I've had to do household things that normally Greg would have done. We've had meltdowns that were directly related to the shooting. Even movies and TV shows that we'd enjoy (like Forrest Gump) became all too real -- especially when Lt. Dan is dealing with the loss of his legs -- and we've stopped watching them.
The trauma has affected the whole family -- directly and indirectly. The two children (out of four) that were not there that night struggle with my husband's paraplegia too. My son who was there does not want to talk about it. Does not want counseling. He's hiding, and withdrawing further into himself. He is a prayer concern.
Our daughter, who was there (six years old), now wants to be a doctor when she grows up. A neurosurgeon, to be exact -- so she "can help Daddy walk again." She struggles with hugging him because she doesn't want to hurt him.
Trauma doesn't just affect the victim. It affects everyone. We've all had to make adjustments and changes. He has joined a trauma survivors' support group that has helped him a great deal. I went twice -- and vowed I'd never go again. But last week, I went ... and discovered in the family and friends group like-minded women (in this particular group) who get it -- who understand -- because they're going through it too. I didn't have this understanding in my circle of friends. They're struggling themselves and keep saying to us both, "I don't know how you do it."
I don't know how we do it. We just keep going. We pray a lot. We work hard at keeping the floor cleared off to make it easier on Greg. I spend an inordinate amount of time doing things to make Greg's life, period, easier. Sadly, that also means my own self-care takes a back seat. One of these days, that may change...but in this season, we all have crosses to bear.
On that night when I heard the gunshot pierce the cool night air, and on the crazy-fast drive to the hospital, and as I sat in the recliner in the ICU begging the nurse to up his pain meds, I knew, instinctively -- that our lives had just been changed completely, forever. It's not just one set of legs that were paralyzed that night -- it was the heart of a family.
But, only through the grace of Jesus Christ -- we're getting back a level of normalcy. I met a woman at the trauma group who was four months out from her husband being shot...and I was able to hug and comfort her. That is the power of the grace of Jesus Christ. He is able to take the traumas of our lives -- any trauma -- and put it to good use. We may not be able to see it immediately, as we're still hearing the beeps of IVs and the cries of our beloved, but just as Jesus did not remain in His trauma on the cross, and just as He did not remain in the tomb -- He is able and willing to work in and through us despite and because of trauma.
So what do we do? We keep going. We get out of bed in the morning. We help our family, and we make sure we take care of ourselves [insert preaching-to-the-choir comment here]. We don't allow the trauma to take any more from our families than it already has.
Yes, trauma affects the whole family. But so does Jesus. And He is so much stronger than any trauma or tragedy.
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