Wednesday, 02 August 2017 14:11

Damage goes deeper than the ‘physical’

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Writer Charles Dickens was paid per word. I would pay writers to add one particular word to reports of traumatic events. The word is “physical” and it would precede “injury” and “recovery.”

In my local newspaper, I read, “Police investigating self-inflicted gunshot death near Blaine Lake.” After the sentence, “The RCMP officers sustained no injuries during the incident,” I exclaimed “no PHYSICAL injuries.”
A writer can observer no physical injuries. A writer cannot observe the probable mental, emotional, and/or spiritual injuries that happen when we witness a death or a near-death. How could you not be wounded by the sights and smell of that disturbing scene or the sound of that fatal gunshot?
If we read that our police, first responders, firefighters, armed forces members, and veterans were “physically” injured or not “physically” injured, we will be reminded that they may have other injuries.
We also need to extend this to victims and villains. Imagine being stabbed by someone you dated. Would you make “a full recovery in the weeks following the attack?”
This statement may inflict a secondary wound — minimizing, disbelieving, or denying your first wound.
Post trauma people need to be allowed to heal in their own way and on their own time. The next time you read “no injuries,” “full recovery,” or other all-purpose observations, please mentally add the word “physical.” We can help people heal by acknowledging their wounds are real even when not physical. 
Nancy Carswell, Shellbrook, Sask.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor