1: consequence, result <stricken with guilt as an aftermath of the accident>
2: the period immediately following a usually ruinous event <in the aftermath of the war>
Two stories: After Mrs. B’s round with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, we were broken. 6-months of chemo, years of checkups every quarter followed by years of checkups semiannually, followed by years of checkups annually. Fears, stresses, strains over every little fever, sniffle, pain had moved us to a place where we were simply broken. This was our “aftermath” and our “brokenness” was a result of how we dealt with it. We ended up working with a company that had developed a “personal growth” curriculum that allowed an individual to confront, and be confronted by, all the fears that had them in a headlock. It was direct, honest, focused, intense, confrontational . . . . . and effective. Honestly, it saved us in so many ways.
And, it turned out I had a knack for this type of work as well – eventually becoming a facilitator of all three of their courses. Their initial course had the intriguing title of “Discovery”, a place where you could discover those fears and actions that had taken you “off line” and confront them. I can be direct, I can be honest, I can love a person enough to stand in their face and call them out. Connie comes to mind. The first night of the course, she obviously didn’t want to be there, carried a ton of anger and was determined to exert herself. “Been a bitch long??” I asked. Towards the end of the first evening a “crack” appeared in her face and eyes, then a tear, then a sob . . . . and the emotion of her particular life event, her “aftermath” began to clear. She could move, breath and begin to move on. You MUST allow yourself to work through your “event”, your fears, and your “walls” to clear away your aftermath . . . . or it can last a life time.
Joe’s dad was painfully quiet, withdrawn – simply living his existence. He was in his mid-60s and had become very comfortable with his current demeanor. His son wanted more for him. During the second night of his course I began to see the same cracks appear that I saw in Connie – followed by tears, sobs and a halting story of the end of WWII. While he had experience combat during his tour, he had never actually personally witnessed a person dying from his hand . . . . until the closing days of the war. A German soldier was running down a road – and with a careful aim and a determined trigger press, the soldier was struck and died. He finally saw a person die by his hand . . . . Today what he experienced is broadly talked about as PTSD, “Soldier’s Heart” and a host of other names depending on its root cause and the effect on the soldier. In his time it was “shell shock” and typically seen as evidence of cowardice. He carried this “aftermath” to the course – 1945 to the mid 80s, living it each and every day of his life.
There are other events that cause us to experience fear/pain/loss/guilt and a myriad of other uncomfortable feelings. They can consume and destroy us. Or, they can make us stronger and more resilient – the choice is truly ours.
In speaking about Home Defense, chatting about our evaluation and preparation, reviewing our different types of weapons and working through a couple different types of engagements – all will lead us to this particular word . . . .
Aftermath . . . .
And what that means to us specifically.
I want to explore three distinct types of Aftermath, their effect on us and paths to resolution. I will call these:
“To The Death”
Earlier segments on Home Defense dealt with the evaluation of your defensive situation leading to the preparation of external and internal defensive perimeters. A “Close Encounter” would be a potential threat “sizing you up” and evaluating your residence as a possible target. Or, perhaps it’s simply a fortunate opportunity where you both occupy the roughly the same space. They are about to commit – as you come to a defensive ready. In that instant, regardless of the final circumstances, the threat takes a pass because of your state of readiness. An opportunity missed, a threat averted . . . . and now the aftermath.
It would be more than natural for any individual to become hyper vigilant, to see a threat around every corner, to see each person passed as an aggressor. The reality of such a choice is that it is wearing, exhausting and ultimately futile. Another “Close Encounter” will either happen, or it won’t. Do your best to calm your mind and return to your previous state of readiness and awareness – it picked up the threat the first time, chances are it will the next time as well. No one can live in “orange” – and to do so invites failure.
Your perimeters are physical penetrated. Doors opened, windows broken, garages vandalized . . . . . you are violated. Yet, your preparations have paid off, you prepared for engagement, gathered your family, called police and informed the threat what you have done and are prepared to do. Thankfully, they chose wisely and retreated . . . . leaving you in peace for the time being. And comes the aftermath . . . . the evaluation of what you did “wrong”, reassessing your perimeters, the physical security of doors, windows, garage, the approaches to your yard and home. It is easy to get lost here . . . . endless second guessing, new preparations, new systems, new doors or locks. Again, your best bet is to calm your mind, do an honest evaluation and adjust as necessary. “Harden” your home, but do so within the bounds of reasonableness.
“To The Death”
This is the step that follows should your intruder choose not to leave but to attempt to harm you and your family. Your only concern should be the safety of your family – period. Attack the threat with all weapons at hand and put them down – hard. Nothing is as important is your spouse or child – it is a fight “to the death”.
I do not believe there is any way to truly prepare for such an event. You can do “mechanical” things – call police, call your attorney, call an ambulance for the wounded. Those are simple. It is the aftermath of taking a life that lives with you – for a lifetime. There are five recognized stages a shooter typically goes through:
Elation – that you survived!
Revulsion – at the thought that you killed another person.
Remorse – for the actions you took.
Self Doubt – a questioning of whether you did the right thing.
And finally, Acceptance – that your actions were correct and justified.
Every person’s path through the aftermath of a killing is different. Seek counseling if you need it, be open, allow yourself to “feel”. Reaching “Acceptance” may take a while. And finally, consider the options – the death of a violent attacker – or your spouse or child.
Finally – legal ramifications. Honestly, these can be legion. Plan on being arrested – know your attorney’s phone number – call them. Don’t resist the police. Give a minimal statement – something along the lines of “my life and those of my family were in mortal danger, I had no other option”, and wait for your attorney to arrive before you complete your statement. If you are uncomfortable with this advice, talk to your attorney and have a game plan should such an event happen. You have all the time in the world to prepare NOW, do it!
I do not mean this to even begin to address all the possible components of your particular “aftermath” – only to have you begin to recognize that all our actions have consequences, both for other people and for ourselves. Think about them, chew on them, resolve some of these questions now – rather than “after”. If it is “not your day” you will see the light of another dawn. Do not allow another person’s attack on you destroy the person you are.