I feel a sense of obligation to clear up my earlier blog , two down on Nature Retaliates. I wrote this post before we knew the full extent of the tragedy of the Victorian bush fires.
Last night I read in detail two newspapers, The Age and The Australian. I have not been able to tolerate much more than a glimpse of the newspaper over the past several months. Now I know why. Forget the financial crisis, reading about the aftermath of the bush fires is almost more harrowing than reading about the bush fires themselves. All the trauma and the deep sadness.
My sister in law, Monica and her family have managed to save their homes in Chum Creek, Badger Creek and Healesville proper but only after four weeks of intense anxiety, sleepless nights while one or two stood lookout for fire activity, ember attack and the like. Each day during the most intense period, Monica’s sons and her husband drove a ute with a pump and hoses on the back from one of their houses to the next, they also ferried themselves and their most precious belongings from one house to the next. One minute one house would be safe, the other not, the next they’d have to move on. I don’t know how many times they were evacuated.
People will now say Monica and her family are lucky, but I’m not so sure. Prolonged and intense stress such as they’ve been under for the last several weeks will probably have long lasting effects. they are not lucky. They are survivors and need to be offered the dignity that comes when others recognise their trauma, too. And they are not alone.
Secondary trauma affects us all – a sort of counter transference trauma – for those who are working to help the victims and survivors of the bushfire and it continues. On top of that the threat still exists, maybe not so intense now but what about next summer. It’s a scary thought.