Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: Posttraumatic Growth

Posttraumatic Growth: What does that mean?

By Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D.

No one likes to experience loss. We ache, we get angry, and we don’t believe that life will ever be good again. We didn’t ask for anything to happen to us. We all want the fairytale, the happily ever after. And why not? Isn’t life supposed to be hopeful? We all experience feelings based on the type of loss and who we are. No one person’s road through loss will be exactly the same as someone else’s. And if someone were to tell us there is a gift in our loss? Most of us would laugh or possibly throw something at that person.

Often though, as we travel through our personal journey of loss, at some point we laugh again and sometimes we see that, while we still miss who we were or who we lost in our lives, we are better people for what we’ve been through. We have a different appreciation for life, our priorities have changed, and we experience stronger relationships. We have a renewed sense of purpose in life. For some people, it leads to greater spiritual development and an openness to experiences we never would entertain in our past lives. Whatever it is for each person, posttraumatic growth are the unexpected results of traveling a difficult journey through loss. We can’t have what was back but we can still have a happy, fulfilling, and hopeful life.

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