Shock. Our senses are as sharp as an axe. It comes after the hit, the crash, the jolt, the news, the pain. As the second hand is ticking we are forced to move forward despite emotion that threatens to bury us. Please swallow me up so I don’t have to go on. What is the point after all, when all seems ruined?

Experiencing a nasty shock calls us to mobilise all of our energy as mind and body unite in the call to action. Our heart rate quickens, breathing increases, muscles tighten and hairs stand up on our body like soldiers at attention. Adrenalin and Cortisone surges through our bodies preparing us for the fight. Ready to protect property, valuables, ourselves, loved ones and our country. Our beloved bush.

Many people experienced the recent bushfires in Australia. Days were filled with nervous anticipation as we waited and watched. Checking the emergency apps became a ritual part of every hour, every day, until the final call to evacuate came. It came like a bolt of lightening which demanded attention and reaction. ‘Evacuate now. Seek shelter.’ We are given instructions by emergency services professionally and sensitively informing us of what to expect and what we need to do next. And yet, we feel uncertain and thrown into the abyss.

Horror visited with a vengeance exerting it’s power indiscriminately. It’s powerful thorns scratching some and not others. We are left devastated or spared. Those spared are grateful and relieved, some feel guilty. It’s hard to be positive when surrounded by so much pain and grief.

When it is over we are like insects to the night light. We are drawn back to survey the scene and search for the familiar which might restore our sense of balance. Nothing is the same. It takes courage to see kilometres of bush fire ravaged country, collapsed houses, injured and dead animals. Once the trip was filled with joy, beautiful smelling eucalypts, fresh country air and birds singing. Normally we keep alert for Kangaroos and Wombats on the roadside as they leisurely seek out the green grass. Now we come face to face with the results of the beast that ravaged the homes, businesses, countryside and bush and we stare in disbelief.

Blackened trees line the once lush green landscape. The dead logs are fallen like the enemy defeated at war. The once furious and strong lie misshapen, contorted, and twisted. Mother Earth forced to expose her private parts as we look at her bareness and straight through to her insides. Striped of her hair, clothing and adornments she is naked and exposed. The blood fire has eased and the wounds are clear to see. Deep. Agonising. Painful.

Awareness of our own vulnerability and immortality is acute. As time passes, the earth recoils and responds to the crisis as best it can. We are amazed by the epicormic growth and the luminous green of the ferns sprouting everywhere amongst the blackness.

We too have buds lying within us ready to help us regenerate and recover. We can draw on these after a crisis when we have lost something beautiful. Sometimes we need help to do this and at these times finding someone to talk to, whether that be a loved one, a friend or therapist may help.

About the author

Rebecca Thomas

Education and Developmental Psychologist (Endorsement Candidate) B.Arts, G.D Edu, G.D Psych, G.D Psych (Adv) M.Psych (Ed & Dev) Cert Play Therapy, Cert IV in Training & As.

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