ON THE COUCH with Sarah Bergman
HOW are you doing, since the flood?
For those of us not affected by the devastating floods back in March this year it is relatively easy to move on from this event and see it as over.
However for those in the community directly affected, this is not necessarily the case. While the flood itself was frightening, it is often the aftermath of the flood where psychological distress is experienced and the affects of the loss people endure can continue well after the event.
The experience of dealing with difficulties in insurance claims such as lengthy and frequent telephone calls, delays in assessing claims and the possibility of not being covered or compensated for losses add to the stress and heartache of loss.
It is therefore important to recognise that recovery takes time and individuals overcome adversity in their own ways and in their own time. For some, it takes longer to process the event and this may be dependent on the severity of their flood crisis and support network.
So although the majority of us may have moved on, others may still require ongoing support.
As family and friends it is important not to assume that we think we know that our loved ones are alright.
Rather, take time to have a direct conversation about how they are travelling since the flood and if they need anything. Be prepared to listen and allow them time to express themselves. It is important for people to share their story when they are ready, even if it is a year later.
As an individual, pay attention to your mood and ask yourself: 'Am I coping, how am I feeling lately?' Seek support if needed and allow yourself the time to express your loss. There is real strength in vulnerability and when we allow ourselves the time to make meaning around what has happened to us, rather than pushing aside our experience, we generally fair better.
Don't be afraid to ask for help, recovery takes time!
* Sarah Bergman provides counselling through the practice of Gestalt Psychotherapy for individuals, families and couples. She is an accredited member of (PACFA) and her private practice is in Tweed Heads. Contact her at www. counsellingonthecoast.com.au.