In the series on catastrophe psychologist Dr. Sharon Nielsen outlined the coping devices human beings leverage to get through that ordeal. Most manage to get through it. Some don't, though. They wind up not being able to function. Maybe they will freeze in time.
The rest of us who do get to the other side of the trauma and go on with our lives probably will find that we are becoming different people. That intense suffering changes us.
Members in the audience shared their disappointment that those they considered friends tended to drift away. Initiatlly, sure they lent support. Then they were gone.
One man who experienced a fatal accident in the family explained that phenomenon as fear. They could have been terrified that the catastrophe was contagious. They could have been struck next.
What we tended to come up with is this: Have no expectations of those already in our lives. We are no longer the person they had felt comfortable with. Instead we might have to simply start over again in finding friends.
I had shared with the group how I had reached out to college friends after a professional catastrophe in 2003. I guess I wanted validation that I was still okay. Those were classmates from the Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pennsylvania Class of '67. Overall, that didn't turn out so hot. The feedback at St. Philip's tended to be that we can't expect those from the past, especially the long-ago past, to absorb who we are becoming, post-catastrophe. That only generates resentment.
Takeaway: As we change, we have to be open to all the ripples that creates in our little universe.