Traumatized by Loss? There Are Answers. Look to Find Them.

Our home on the mountain
Our home on the mountain

Lee shares about being traumatized by loss and what that means, and what it does to someone. How sometimes faith in God needs people.

After black mold took over the upper level

After black mold took over the upper level

“Dad. There is water in our room. A lot of water.” 

At 3 AM, my oldest daughter came up the stairs with a baby in her arms and the older children at her side. 

In August 2008, my wife and I hired a contractor to remove a 2,500-gallon oil tank at our home. Thinking it would be no big deal, we were mistaken. 

By the following day, I found the lower level of our home had over 7 inches of water. I spent the next few months bailing water, arguing with insurance companies, talking to lawyers, etc. That issue was $100,000 worth of damage overnight. (It was much more over the next few years.)

A large dumpster was soon filled with sheetrock, carpeting, ruined heirlooms, furnishings, and more. 

My 350 V8 boat

Selling my boat to pay bills

This went on for months. The winter came, and it slowed the water. 

So, much work. Nearly a year later, I was talking to my wife and found I could not breathe. I spent the next two nights on the floor of my van, all while looking for an apartment. 

People asked me, “where was my faith.” “Why had this happened?” I did not have any answers. It seemed like every time I turned around, it was something else.

Faith is often about standing and doing what you need to do. Sometimes, it looks like laughter, and some days like crying.

My back yard on the mountain

My back yard on the mountain

Black mold had consumed my home’s upper levels. No form of insurance took care of any of this. My house on a mountain with 40-mile views was a trap. Over the next five years, I did everything. I had barely completed adding a sizeable septic system to accommodate the new section and made sure I had more than enough to handle the new apartments I was adding when all this happened.

I tried a lot of things. Meanwhile, my wife lived in an RV I bought during warmer weather and wintered in 3 different places during these five years. 

Finally, my wife asked me to stop. To call it quits. To end the game. We decided to move out of the state we had lived in for decades. I could not stay there knowing that I had “failed.” (To this day, I have never been back.) All I had succeeded in doing was losing my home and liquidating all of our savings, and now at 60, I was starting all over again. (Even after moving, we paid for five more years on a home we no longer owned.)

Friends helping me try to recover

Friends helping me try to recover

My endgame was traumatic. I felt like a failure. Like everything I planned had failed. I did not “bounce back” the way I would have thought. I did not have the resistance to many of the attacks that came.

Losing one’s home can be a traumatic experience. It can cause feelings of grief, loss, and displacement. It is important to seek support from friends, family, or a professional therapist to process and cope with these emotions. Some organizations can assist with finding housing and rebuilding one’s life. But after while, you don’t want to talk anymore. I did not use all these resources, but my support “group” was often in play.

I held on to my faith. Sometimes feeling it was by a thread.

Leaving behind a home I had lived in for almost 15, traumatized by financial loss, with so much happening.

Experiencing financial loss can also be traumatic, as it can lead to feelings of insecurity, stress, and anxiety. It can affect one’s overall well-being and can have a significant impact on one’s daily life. It is essential to seek a financial advisor and a therapist to help navigate this difficult time and develop a plan to regain financial stability. It may also be helpful to reach out to community resources for additional support. It’s important to remember that financial setbacks can be overcome with the right support and planning. 

42 mile view from my home

42 mile view from my home

I wondered where God was in the midst of my mess. I kept waiting for a “parting of the Red Sea.” It did not happen.

And the trauma? The pain? 

Here are some of the things I looked at. Recovering from trauma can take time and may involve various approaches. Some strategies that may be helpful include: 

Seeking professional help: A therapist or counselor who is trained in treating trauma can help individuals process their experiences and develop coping strategies.

Talking about the trauma: Sharing one’s story with a trusted friend or family member can be a way to process and make sense of what has happened.

Practicing self-care: Taking care of one’s physical and emotional well-being, such as eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity, can help individuals feel more grounded and in control. 

Engaging in mindfulness practices: Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and yoga can help individuals become more present and aware of their thoughts and emotions. 

Joining a support group: Talking with others who have had similar experiences can be a way to feel less alone and to learn from others’ coping strategies. 

Trauma-focused therapy: therapies like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are evidence-based approaches that effectively treat trauma-related symptoms. 

It’s important to remember that recovery from trauma is a unique process, and individuals may need to try different strategies to find what works for them. 

Admittedly, I felt I needed to do more. Yet, I was fortunate to have friends, family, and my belief in God.

I did seek a counselor for some of it. I did reach out to a doctor. I did tell my friends.

If your best efforts to recover from trauma are not enough, it may be helpful to consider seeking additional support.

One of the biggest things I learned was to be patient and kind to myself. Recovery from trauma is a unique journey, and it may take longer than you expect. Be patient with yourself and try to be kind to yourself throughout the process.

It’s important to remember that seeking help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Everyone’s recovery journey is different, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. 

We lost our home. We lost hundreds of thousands. We lost friends.

I journaled much of this through those years, here.

For those years, we summered in the RV, never not working on the house. In the winter, we would find an apartment. For all those years, we were not “settled.”

My grandson, Jacob, conquering a mountain

My grandson, Jacob, conquering a mountain

And yet, our relationship grew stronger. And one day, I said I think we are to move. And we did.

And our move to the community we have lived in since 2013, has embraced us. 

Romans 8:28 tells us, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

You have a purpose. You may not see it today. You may not feel it. But, it is there.

I posted this on Facebook today. 

Brokeness-clearly it means to be “broken.” Years ago I went through a terrible time. In the middle of that I could not see God the way I wanted to.

Over the last few weeks, I began to write about it. It has been painful, thought-provoking, and life-changing.

I believe that one of the reasons I love people and believe in them has a lot to do with that season.

No one wants to be broken, but when we are, it is a time to learn more about Him, and the changes we need to make in partnership with Him.

Lee in Lake George

Lee in Lake George

Lee Johndrow is the owner of Positive News For You, as well as president of the nonprofit, PN4UINC, and senior leader of Abundant Grace Fellowship in Keene, NH. He and his wife, Tina, have been married for over 30 years. They have 5 children and 8 grandchildren. 

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