Wendy's Blog

When life shocks you

Slapped in the face again by a reality you dislike?

by Wendy Keller, literary agent, bereaved mother, human

I had an important meeting scheduled today to discuss a client’s book contract.  To my utter shock, the person with whom I was to have the meeting sent an email somewhere during the night to tell me that her brother had just died and she wouldn’t be at work today. How in the world did she remember our meeting in the midst of trauma?

She was operating in shock. I remember that state from when my children died.

I know an extraordinary number of other parents who have lost children; I live with a very clear awareness that life is easily snuffed out at any moment, for any person; I’m quite clear that every time I see my family or friends could be the last.  (I think once you’ve buried a child or two, you never see death the same way again – it is permanently impossible to ignore.)

If you read my posts, you’ve probably had to face some pretty major traumas of your own. 

You may still be reeling.  Perhaps you’re still operating in shock, no matter how many weeks, months or years it has been.  It’s very hard to stop, slow down and sift through what happened in great detail.

Yet that is exactly what we must each do from time to time, especially if our current life is riddled with recurring potholes: the inability to form a healthy love relationship (if you want one); the inability to bond with your other living children (or smothering them with protection); the recurring mysterious health problems; addictive behaviors; unconquerable depression. These are all ways your soul is screaming at you to take the time it requires to dismantle what happened to you, how you reacted, and how it caused you to believe now – and see if this is the best result you could have considering the circumstances.

Is your soul is screaming at you?  Don’t just read this and push on.

Of course, it’s best to do this with someone else who is trained to handle the task. Some grief counselors, some therapists, some psychiatrists are very good at this stuff.  (And some are not!)  It is not so much a process of reliving the anguish you endured, because it won’t be the same fresh anguish now anyway – your brain already knows what happened.  There is some research to indicate that re-traumatizing someone is not healthy.  But it IS healthy to look at the emotions you may have stuffed and the decisions you made about the way things are as a result, especially with the guidance of a qualified, compassionate coach or professional.

Not sure if you have blind spots of unhealed pain?  I dare you to do this exercise.

Not sure if you need some help or if you really are as “fine” as you claim?  Next time you have some quiet, ask yourself these questions sincerely, preferably with a pen in hand:

  1. Because of what happened, I now believe life is…
  2. It’s very unlikely that…
  3. I feel guilty when I think about…
  4. People like me are always…
  5. The thing I hate most is…
  6. It’s unfair that this happened because…
  7. I’m entitled to …. because of what happened to me.

Write answers until you can’t think of any more, and then write 5 or 6 more.  Try to observe yourself. If you have already refused to even attempt this helpful exercise, ask yourself Why? What might you be hiding from yourself by thinking this is stupid or an irritating idea?

If these sentence starters do agitate you internally, it’s an indicator you are living your life with some frozen emotion trapped inside. If you could have resolved the pain by yourself or with the advice of your friends, you would have done so already.

If doing it alone were enough, you’d really be OK now.

Make a commitment to yourself to get some help. Don’t allow yourself to live your life with part of your heart cut off.  The growth that is supposed to come after trauma can be stagnated when we too quickly force ourselves to function in a world that’s gone awry or when we continue to use the gift of early shock as our coping strategy for years to come.

You are alive.  Let yourself attempt fully living.  Give yourself permission to heal.


When you’re ready, you will probably find this free

eBook comforting.

Over 8,000 suffering people already have.


“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis”


  1. I’ve lost both of my girls, ages 19 and 14. However, they have not passed away. I lost them when I divorced their father. Our relationship was strained at first, but I at least got to see them. They have since cut me out of their lives completely. Their father and family members have convinced them that I was cheating and left because of another man. This is not true. How can they just forget all of the arguing and cruel remarks, and several instances of physical abuse, over an 18 year period? My world revolved around my girls and for them to cut me out of their lives completely is killing me. I’ve written them letters, emails, tried to call, sent texts, all to no avail. They live only 30 minutes away but it may as well be on the other side of the world. Any help or suggestions?

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