Has your family ever suffered a tragic event that affected everyone? There are many ramifications that can occur from family trauma. “Family estrangement” may occur where family members become dysfunctional with each other. Examples can be if there was a death in the family, someone is sick or abused.

A family unit is supposed to be like a team. If one member of the family is struggling with something traumatic, this is the time for everyone to pick each other up. Support and love need to flow throughout the household so that everyone can rely on the other for help. A broken family does not have to stay broken. It is all about knowing what tools you need to heal and be a loving family all over again.

Here are some traumatic scenarios that can cause family estrangement and what you can do about them.

Family Trauma Examples

Even if trauma has affected just one member of a nuclear family, it can have an effect on everyone. For example, your child getting bullied at school can have an effect on the family. If your child withdraws in their room, comes home with bruises, or becomes a bully themselves, the whole family suffers.

The same can be said if your child has cancer. The whole family needs to be in treatment with their child as they see their child’s progress. The other children could feel neglected if too much attention is on the sick child. If the child dies, the whole family is in mourning. If not everyone is aware of healthy methods of mourning, substance abuse may occur or other risky behaviors.

Other examples could be if abuse exists in the house. If one of your parents or siblings is abusing another family member, relatives could be at war with each other. They would rather be in denial about an abuser in the family than pursue protective efforts. Each form of abuse, whether it is physical or verbal, can come with emotional scars.

How Families Can Be Affected

Traumatic events can cause an emotional burden on a family depending on the circumstances and relatives involved. After a few weeks, there could be a lot of arguments and tension. They could also want to stay away from activities they used to enjoy in fear it will not be as special anymore.

Teenagers could be rebellious as a way of gaining their parents’ attention if they feel neglected. They could feel like there is no point in doing the right thing anymore if the worst has happened to them. No one may have the energy to seek solutions.

Sometimes, trauma may not hit a family until something triggers them years later. This could mean the trauma can catch up to them if the same event happens again. Changes that occurred weeks or months after the event could be permanent if no help has been sought out. Some relatives may want to commemorate the event while others want to forget. No matter what, trauma cannot be ignored.

Recovering as a Family

If you are all going to recover as a family, you need to be patient with each other and remember the goal is towards healing. Instead of focusing all of your time dwelling on the trauma you have been through, find fun quality time to spend. Make plans to relax with each other or plan a vacation. Finding a fun place to visit out of town will promote togetherness and put your negative feelings on pause.

Communication is also very important to know how everyone is feeling and how best to help. Keep track of your family’s progress and stay positive. Families who get through hard times together end up stronger.

If you are still struggling with keeping your family together after a traumatic event, please speak to a mental health professional immediately about how trauma therapy can help.

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