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  • Writer's pictureSherri M. Herman

Trauma, Loneliness, and the Path to Healing

Do you feel lonely in the wake of the loss of a significant relationship or job? Or perhaps as a result of an accident or injury? When combined, trauma and loneliness amplify each other, making it all the more difficult to heal emotionally and return to psychological and physical well-being.

Nearly 30 years ago, my dad Harry died at the age of 45 from a heart attack. The autopsy revealed scar tissue on his heart, evidence that he most certainly experienced multiple heart attacks prior to the final blow; heart attacks that he likely kept to himself or brushed off as indigestion as he took another shot of Maalox.

My dad was incredibly social and connected. He was a middle child among seven other siblings, a small business owner, and beloved in his community. Harry was one of the most outgoing, helpful, and gregarious people anyone could know.

Trauma loneliness healing Sherri M Herman

Harry was the kind of person that would help anyone with anything, whether it was repairing an engine, restoring an old mahogany Chris-Craft boat, building a new garage, or helping with a school project. If you needed it, he would figure out a way to make it happen. Anyone could count on him for help and for a beer.

He wasn’t a fan of doctors. If you sliced open your finger, he’d probably suggest putting some Watkins Salve on it, have a swig of beer – you’ll be fine.

To the untrained eye, no one would have ever classified my dad as lonely.

The untrained eye wouldn’t see his chain smoking as a coping mechanism for unresolved childhood trauma. The untrained eye wouldn’t see his nearly continuous consumption of beer and vodka as desperate attempts to disconnect from decades of suppressed emotional pain.

He spent 45 years of his one, precious life not in social isolation but in emotional isolation fueled by childhood trauma and maintained by chemical addiction. It wasn’t his fault. Although his methods weren’t always healthy and were sometimes downright harmful, I believe he was genuinely doing the best he could with the few tools he had to try and create a better life for himself and his family.

Loneliness and trauma are different experiences, both incredibly nuanced, but come with similar negative health effects that are compounded when combined.

Harry's life fulfilled the statistical promises of trauma and loneliness: heart disease, chemical addiction, obesity, poor self-care, lack of emotional intimacy, and, of course, premature death.

Trauma and loneliness can both can accompany a fundamental belief that, “I’m not okay,” and “The world is not okay.” These intertwined experiences can actually make it more difficult to get the social-emotional support you really need to heal, digging you deeper into a hole of emotional isolation. You can check out some of the research here.

Harry's story is a poignant reminder that beneath the surface of outward sociability, many people grapple with deep emotional pain. His journey underscores the critical importance of addressing trauma and loneliness, not just for ourselves, but for those around us.

If you find yourself struggling with similar feelings of isolation or unresolved trauma, know that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can provide the support and understanding you need. Engaging in open conversations about mental health can help break down the barriers of stigma and isolation that many people face.

For those who see someone they care about exhibiting signs of emotional distress, take the time to offer a listening ear and compassionate support. Sometimes, the simple act of being present for someone, without judgment, can make a world of difference.

Despite his early death, Harry's legacy is a testament to the power of resilience and the human spirit's capacity to seek connection even through pain.

May his story inspire you to look beyond the surface, to offer empathy and support to those who may be struggling, and to prioritize your own emotional well-being.

It takes great courage to choose the path of healing.

In the end, the path to healing is a solitary choice but not a solitary journey. It is one we can walk together, finding hope and okayness amidst the chaos of the world. By embracing connection and actively working towards healing, we can honor the memory of those like Harry and create a more compassionate and understanding world for all.

Let’s work together to create the meaningful peace, purpose, and connection you want and deserve.


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Trauma loneliness healing Sherri M Herman

Sherri M Herman, spiritual life coach, speaker, psychotherapist, MN,

Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. << Click Here to Get Your Free Mini-Journaling Course >>

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