I find in the aftermath of a tragedy people have many more questions than the victim has answers for. In fact, people have many more questions than a traumatized mind can handle. In my case they had many more questions than I even cared about in those first days of shock and discombobulation.
This week my sister and I suffered another horror, fortunately not bodily, when our office was burglarized and everything was taken. We lost five computers storing all our data. our backups, our software, our custom programming, pictures, letters, articles, etc. To walk in to the disaster and see empty desks and stuff scattered all over the floors sent me right back to the night the rapist broke in to my house.
Desperately fighting the urge to disconnect, there were phone calls to be made and reports to be filed. With that the questions started, just like the night back in June. What happened? Do you have…? Did he/they..? Have the police…? What are you going to do? (over and over and over) What about…? Did you…? Are you going to…? What about…? AAHHHH!! STOP!! I DON’T KNOW!!! Then add to that the people that think if they ask you the same question enough times, you will give them a different answer. I won’t. My sister won’t. It doesn’t work and it isn’t helpful. In fact as you can see, it made and continues to make us, crazy.
I know people are concerned and I know they can formulate a million questions because their brain did not just receive the trauma. I know people assume we have all these answers because this event happened to us, we were there. People who have not had something shocking happen to them do not understand that the brain shifts to survival mode and logical thinking is generally not a part of it. I get that, and that does not make the endless questions any less frustrating when I have no answers to offer, when others care more about the answers at that time than I do.
I share this not just to vent, but in hopes that sharing this difficult part of being victimized will help us all to reach out to the broken in a more gentle way. Picking at an overwhelmed psyche is harmful. Offering condolences is great. Offering help is wonderful. Offering to just sit with the person and listen if they talk is an amazing gift.