2017-11-16 / Community

Hurricane Irma can be a path to personal growth


It is still hard to comprehend the devastating impact that Hurricane Irma has had on so many lives. The most obvious is the destruction of our properties. Crashed roofs, images of homes completely wiped out, and flooded homes will forever be ingrained in our minds. Beautiful majestic trees were broken to pieces, and those trees and plants that survived will take years to rejuvenate.

Yet nothing even comes close to the devastating impact this hurricane has had on our emotional well-being. So many people returned to find out that their homes – where they used to feel safe and protected – were flooded, torn apart, and no longer livable. Displaced, emotionally and physically exhausted, they had to return and continue with their work, and yet their lives have not been the same since.

For some, the physical rebuilding of properties is the greatest challenge; however, for most, it is the emotional rebuilding that requires nurturance, attention and time.

Psychologists trained in trauma have found that many people who experience natural disasters continue to experience ongoing anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and have difficulties functioning. Yet others are resilient and bounce quickly back to pre-trauma functioning. They are able to move forward with even stronger resilience.

When we are wounded, scars stay with us; but we can embrace life even with greater resolve and determination. Some people walk away when faced with hardship and challenges; others try harder and grow stronger. Tragedy can challenge us to develop new, deeper relationships and deeper roots, be grateful, and re-examine our lives and our responses to stress.

I challenge our readers to choose post-traumatic growth. Be the instrument of kindness and compassion and hope. Encourage and help those who need more nurturance and who are more vulnerable and helpless.

When people endure the same tragedy it can bring them closer together and renew their spirits. Then the suffering will produce renewal and have eternal meaning.

Stan Strycharz is a licensed psychologist practicing in Southwest Florida. He can be reached at drstan.net.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2017-11-16 digital edition