Of course, the oldest daughter, over 4 years old was affected by this traumatic event the most. Their car had been totaled, her mom was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and she had never experienced anything this frightening and concerning. For a few weeks after the accident, every day on their way to and from work and day care she would ask the same question, “Mom, are we going to get into a car accident today?” Every day, her mom would explain that she did not plan on getting into an accident and that she would try to keep them as safe as possible.
As the weeks went on, her daughter began to ask new questions about the accident and would look at her mom’s injuries. She could visually see that her mom’s bruises were healing. Watching this process provided her daughter with the opportunity to see “healing” taking place. This also provided her mother with the ability to emphasize and teach her daughter that sometimes, scary things happen but people can heal from them.
Later during that same week, her daughter said “Mom, I know how we can help and fix the car. We can use my tape.” My sister asked her “How would the tape help?” Her daughter replied, “We can put the tape on all of the broken pieces and put it together. Then, it will get better too like you did.” Such an imaginative mind and such a creative way to process what happened to her.
I am always amazed at the strength and resiliency of children. With her mom’s help and the use of her imagination she was able to integrate her traumatic experience into her life. As opposed to it remaining separate and traumatic.
Their car rides have returned to normal. According to my sister, her oldest daughter returned to singing songs that play in the car and quickly went back to annoying her younger sister.