CORONAVIRUS

Post-Traumatic Growth: How To Find Meaning, Resilience & Strength In Adversity

May 13, 2021, 10:20 PM | Updated: 11:38 pm

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah – This pandemic year has dealt loss and disruptive change to people all over Utah. The vast majority of Americans, 89%, named at least one negative change in their lives, according to Pew Research.

Our losses – whether the death of a loved one or a major financial or emotional setback – can severely impact our well-being.

Growing research suggested those who work through trauma can experience transformative change. Their adversity eventually becomes an advantage.

Living Through Loss

The Herbert family has taken that on faith because right now, it can be a struggle just to get out of bed.

“This last year has been the hardest ever. Ever,” said Heather Herbert.

The Brigham City family lost their 10-year-old daughter Ali to leukemia in November. A few months later, Jess Herbert was injured on the job. One week after that, he was laid off.

“That grief of sorrow, like, oh my gosh, I don’t know if I can go on,” said Heather Herbert.

With five other children at home, they must go on. But trauma has become their constant companion.

(Used by permission, The Herbert Family)

In this pandemic year, many others are in the same state. The families of at least 2,255 Utahns lost a loved one due to COVID-19. Thousands of others lost jobs.

About 25% of Americans said they’re considering a career shift due to the pandemic, according to a report by H.R. company Morneau Shepell.

According to Pew Research Center, 51% of Americans expect their lives will remain changed in major ways.

Growth After Trauma

“There are all kinds of painful things that have happened in the past year,” said Mara Haight. She is a therapist and the owner of the Utah Center for Post Traumatic Growth.

Trauma can force us to rethink who we are, what we believe, and what truly matters to us. Haight believes our most traumatic experiences can transform us in surprising ways.

“We can actually see we are stronger, more resilient than before the traumatic event happened,” Haight said.

Post-traumatic growth isn’t a new concept, but it is getting more attention after this past year.

To emerge stronger, Haight said, you must be willing to do the work.

Steps and behaviors that help lead to that growth include:

  • Connecting with friends or professionals to process what you’re going through.
  • Serving those who may benefit from your experience.
  • Accepting change – acknowledging that life won’t be the same, but it can still be good.

“Start to recognize, ‘Whoa! This thing that I never thought I couldn’t survive, I did. And I learned these things about myself,’” said Haight. “I’ve often seen people say, ‘You know, I don’t think I would go back to how things were before for me.’”

Studies showed the healing process can lead to stronger relationships, appreciation of life and new personal and spiritual strength.

Healing Journey

That is what Josh Hansen gained after his journey to work through PTSD and injuries suffered during multiple tours in the Middle East. He struggled to get there.

Sgt. Josh Hansen in Iraq. (Used by permission, Josh Hansen)

“I was in such a very dark place and the dark tunnel that I was in, the light was going out fast,” said Hansen.

The army veteran contemplated suicide so he wouldn’t be a burden to his wife and children. That changed when a fellow soldier took his life and Hansen saw at the funeral how much pain it caused family and friends.

“That was my serious wake-up call,” said Hansen. “I had to put more effort into my healing process. I had to force myself to get outside and do things.”

He started a non-profit, Continue Mission, to help other veterans. Hansen holds more than 150 outdoor events each year, which he designs around what worked for his own healing process. It took a decade, but he calls the transformation “amazing.”

“It’s such a new life for me and I’m so much happier than where I was,” he said.

Silver Lining

The Herbert family’s journey has just begun.

They started a disaster restoration business to support their family and to build their daughter’s legacy.

Ali Herbert (Used by permission, Herbert Family)

“We knew we wanted to incorporate Ali,” said Heather Herbert. A portion of all proceeds will help other families dealing with childhood cancer.

“We want to help, whether it is fuel or Christmas or memories,” said Jess Herbert.

Since Ali always looked on the bright side, the company is named “Herbert’s Silver Lining Restoration.”

It is providing them a pathway to heal, to make a living, and to make life a little easier for families who are also trying to find joy in a life with loss.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

(KSL-TV)...
Katija Stjepovic

Utah arts and cultural jobs are surging after COVID pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic pulled the curtains on most of Utah's arts and cultural jobs, but after nearly three years, they are reemerging. 
21 hours ago
...
Ashley Moser

Flu, COVID and RSV all trending down for the first time in months, says CDC

Major respiratory illnesses are all trending down for the first time since September, according to the CDC.
15 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Josh Ellis

Utah doctor, others charged with running COVID vaccine scheme, issuing fake records and giving fake shots

A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others have been charged after prosecutors say they issued fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and injected minors with saline shots.
21 days ago
Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department, left, discusses schoolch...
Michael Houck

Salt Lake County ends its COVID-19 emergency status

After nearly three years, the Salt Lake County Health Department ended its COVID emergency status Tuesday. 
29 days ago
FILE: People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests a...
Eliza Pace

Gov. Cox, along with 24 other governors, call on President Biden to end Federal Public Health Emergency

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a letter with 24 other governors calling on President Joe Biden to end the federal public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
2 months ago
U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes guests to the East Room of the White House on December 14, 2022 i...
ZEKE MILLER, AP White House Correspondent

White House reveals winter COVID-19 plans, more free tests

The Biden administration is again making some free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. households as it unveils its contingency plans for potential coronavirus surges this winter.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Post-Traumatic Growth: How To Find Meaning, Resilience & Strength In Adversity