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How to ease the pain of the clean-up after storm damage

The days after storm damage can be the most painful as you see the extent of your loss.

I’ll share some tips for coping from a friend and wise psychologist, Kerry Deller.

“Research highlights that it is important to totally acknowledge the loss and its impact upon us.  And then work towards slowly letting the pain go.  And creating hope of a better tomorrow.” Kerry Deller – Psychologist.

flood clean-up

(Disclosure: this image is from clean-up after Brisbane’s 2011 flooding – but after every flood, the pain is similar)

Tony (T): So I reckon a lot of people will be in pain around Brisbane, South East Queensland and south of the border today from last night’s damage  – as they see how much they’ve lost.

Are there any ways of lessening that pain? Do we make the pain linger by taking too much time to sort through damaged stuff trying to salvage things?

Kerry (K): Actually, the pain can linger if you pretend that items didn’t matter and therefore trapping the grief (no matter how small) inside of ourselves.

On the other hand, constantly re-living the loss keeps the pain stuck inside. Technically speaking…this unfortunately creates a secondary feedback loop of compounding grief.  This left unaddressed leads to the need to avoid anything that triggers that pain.

T: So what CAN people do?

K: It’s about acknowledging what you’ve lost and then deciding to let it go.

In everyday language, it’s about taking a moment and literally ‘thanking’ the things you’ve lost and then strategically choosing to release them, because their time was up!

T: That sounds very ‘new agey’.

K: It works. Research highlights that it is important to totally acknowledge the loss and its impact upon us. And then work towards slowly letting the pain go. And creating hope of a better tomorrow.”

T: How do you create hope for a better tomorrow?

Let’s just say you have to throw out a beautiful and favourite pair of shoes.  They’ve served you well. They are no ordinary shoes and they mean a lot to you. You acknowledge the pain of losing them and say to yourself something like: “What a great opportunity to replace them with new ones. …  I’ll always have that memory of how much I loved the old ones.”


T: For me, during last night’s storm the most important thing was that my family was safe. I wanted my kids to ‘feel safe’ in that howling wind and threat of rising water. I found the storm really ‘simplified’ things for me about what mattered most. It reduced things to a ‘primitive simplicity’.

K: Yes, events like last night’s storm with nature venting its energy CAN give us an opportunity to re-focus and we can talk about that for a separate post.

Today and this weekend for many will be a clean-up day. It’s an important time for people to release elements of the past  – and create links of hope to the future they choose to create.

(I’m helping Kerry condense her knowledge into a book – her content/my encouragement to ‘make it happen’ within a time-frame between her work.  When we break from the book creation, for a coffee, I often ‘pick her brains’ about topical challenges – like last night’s storms around the South East. If you’d like to find out more about Kerry, please google Kerry Deller, psychologist.)



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