Trauma shatters deeply-held core beliefs about us and our world as violently as an explosion shatters glass. We may have thought the world was a safe place, or that we were loved. But trauma locks us in darkness where we cannot retrieve that safety and care. Instead, we are uncontrollably frightened. But trauma is not the end of our story. Some of us are resilient: we use our own courage and the company of others to escape the terror and move out of the darkness. Others of us are not resilient, or our trauma is too great. Then we must be authors of our own brave journey out of the darkness toward healing but we need particular help from others.
Viktor Frankl, after his release from Dachau and Auschwitz, wrote an anonymous report that became the classic book, Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl proposed that meaning, and its creation, is essential to humanity. But among the intense privations and suffering of the Holocaust, and in the camps in particular, to continue affirming meaning in life was a daily, hourly, even minute by minute struggle. Prisoners who failed lost hope and died. Meaning is equally necessary in recovery after trauma, since trauma destroys our previous meanings in life.