“After Katrina hit I received mops and a bucket from a disaster relief organization. From The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, I got my life back.”
Mindy Milam, LCSW, New Orleans
Most relief organizations focus on the physical: providing supplies, water, shelter, food and medical assistance — and rightly so. But where there is physical trauma — whether it affects our body or our possessions — there is also emotional distress. And with emotional distress, especially in extreme situations, if you can’t cope, nothing else matters. Relieving emotional stress is the key. By lowering levels of stress, we can think more clearly — vital in a crisis — and we can relax our bodies, to express caring and give and receive love more fully.
In the bucolic community of Sandy Hook, the air hangs thick with grief and anxiety. I visited with Dr. James Gordon at the end of July, as CMBM’s new Global Trauma Relief Coordinator, seeing and talking to people who had been profoundly affected by the December 14th shootings at their elementary school. I had followed these events from afar, of course, but now I was actually listening to how people’s lives had changed, and realized that it’s not just the people who lost family and friends who are suffering. Everyone in the Newtown area, perhaps across the state, now sees life differently. Some heard the gunshots. Some saw children flee—and didn’t know why. Some saw the dead, and painfully realized they couldn’t restore life. Tragedy has visited others since then, but in the shadow of December 14, they grapple with it quietly. And how to celebrate? Babies are born; there are birthdays. I worried about being seen as an interloper.