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A Note Of Healing


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Dear Ones,

This message of hope and healing comes to us from Joyce Boaz, Director, Gift from Within. It is written by Dr. Beverly Anderson, one of the board members of that organization, who asks that it be shared with all of us:

A Note of Healing to the Virginia Tech Community

From Dr. Beverly Anderson

Metropolitan Police Department

Washington, DC

As a trauma therapist, mother of four, and cancer survivor, I send my deepest sympathies. I believe that this event is life-changing for all involved. As much as parents and students may want to "put it away" and "get away from it," there will be a "new normal."....one that is yet to be created.

Healing and recovery is not an "event" but a process and a journey. It takes time. For students, survivors, and their families an emotional roller coaster now prevails. The trauma is engrafted in their minds with more vividness and clarity than most of their happiest of times. The initial shock and horror gives way to emotional numbness followed by bouts of tears and disbelief. We doubt all of our assumptions that we held onto prior to the trauma. We cannot be the same person, but don't know who will be. We pray that it is all a bad dream....one that we will wake up from....only to find that, sadly, it is not.

Whatever innocence we had before the trauma is gone in the wake of this horrible tragedy. Our faith in God is tested. Our world and our future is changed as the assumptions we held dear are shattered along with our sense of safety, security, and predictability. The world as we knew it is changed. The sense of predictability that brought order to our lives, is gone.

This act was not an accident; it wasn't an act of nature....it was of human design born of an evil and twisted mind.

As parents, we send our children off to college to provide a marvelous opportunity to grow and to learn in an atmosphere of safety. The most basic role of any parent is to keep our children safe. Now, even that has been ripped away and we will suffer yet another wound. Truly this is insult added to injury.

What we can and must do is respect the enormity of what has happened. We cannot escape from it, we must honor its place in our "world view." We must talk about it and weave its meaning into the very tapestry of our lives. It's okay to cry. The tears that you cry are a respectful remembrance of those poor souls who lost their lives to this senseless tragedy. It's okay to be afraid. Parents cannot "fix it" or deny that it happened. We must face it. In the words of Maya Angelou,

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

Reach out to your support system and talk about your feelings and fears.

Healing is about talking and crying; it's about giving ourselves permission to grieve the victims and our loss of safety. Healing is a journey that begins with the decision by each of us that we will heal. Survival and healing is the very essence of who we are and who we will be. Our attitudes will create the climate for healing to take place. If we see ourselves as "victims" we will be victims.

Emily Dickinson wrote:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all.

Decide that something positive will emerge out of this nightmare.

Cultivate persistence and perseverance and trust that God will help you through these very dark moments.

Human beings have survived horrendous moments throughout history, through wars and massacres from the Holocaust through the Terrorist Attacks of September 11th. To survive is to triumph over evil. Let me leave you with the words of A. Powell Davies, a Unitarian minister:

There is a light within each of us that need never entirely go out. We can lose the battles, but not the war. We can go on when our minds tell us that there is no point in going on- because something deep inside tells us we can go on. And we do.


Gift From Within- PTSD Resources for Survivors and Health Professionals

l6 Cobb Hill Road

Camden, ME 04843 USA

207 236-8858 ph

207 236-2818 fax

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