A Report from Ruth Altschuler
November 19, 2017
Once again, I volunteered at a free clinic at a table organized by Farmacopia offering help in the aftermath of the Santa Rosa fires.
The clinic, called Sanación del Pueblo, is offered monthly by a non-profit community organization. Many healers volunteer throughout the year to help people get healing they would otherwise not reach out for. For 4 straight hours every month, volunteers offer massage therapy, energy healing, acupuncture, yoga, herbal therapy, flower essences, art work and play for children, etc. At their beautiful opening circle yesterday, we learned a bit about each volunteer, and about the overall purpose of this community initiative.
In the aftermath of the fires, clinics such as these became an important source of emergency help for the people of Santa Rosa. This one, specifically, tends to a population that includes lower income people in an area of town where many are Spanish-speaking people.
Last month when I volunteered, there were definitely more people present, more families, with more men as well. I think people trusted that because of the tragedy that had struck the community, there was a “truce” of sorts that made it safer for some families to come in for help. Not this time. There were less people, more women than men, many coming for more general healing needs. However, when we looked into each case, we could see how, in one way or another, either general population or part of the volunteer and helpers teams, everyone was, in one way or another, impacted by the fires that struck Santa Rosa starting on the night of October 8.
In the same way as last time, I was acutely aware of how people’s previous layers of trauma, that they have carried within from recent or past experiences, have been strongly reactivated as they lived through the large collective experience of the fires. Their present experience, even if they were not more directly and concretely affected by the fires (in the sense of losing a home or a job), has been affected by the impact of this collective trauma. This major occurrence has had deep reaching effects in adults and children of all economical backgrounds and racial ethnicities, activating within them deep levels of stress and distress. The atmosphere of trauma and distress is still in the collective field in this area in a very strong way.
|...people’s previous layers of trauma, that they have carried within from recent or past experiences, have been strongly reactivated as they lived through the large collective experience of the fires.
The comforting thing is knowing we can offer help, and many are now being comforted by the healing blessings of the essences and the other forms of healing being offered.
Following are some examples of people who have been helped with flower essences.
Regina - survivor's guilt
Survivor’s guilt, this was one of the first things she said to me that she needed help with.
This is a woman who did not lose her home, while all around her, all other homes were lost. In that home she lived with her husband and two children, a five year old and a toddler a little older than a year, whom she still nurses. She will soon have to go back to the house and toss mostly everything away, because now all her house content is considered toxic. Having this ahead of her is also very distressing, something she is not looking forward to.
They lost their neighborhood and all the structure of their day to day life (and I think I remember her saying they are living in a trailer). The 5 year old, all of a sudden, lost the connection with all friends she used to play with. There is this immense sense of loss and devastation, while at the same time she is seen as one of the lucky ones, spared from the tragedy her next door neighbors experienced. She mentioned that one neighbor used to mention the fact that they woke him up and (therefore) saved his life, but now he does not even talk about this any more, only about how lucky they are to have been spared.
Photo courtesy of us.pressfrom.com
When the fires happened, they went to the shelter and lived through it. So many around them learned they had lost their homes. In the aftermath, not having lost the house, with everything around it having been destroyed was a very weird thing, also because they fall into a different category around insurance and the steps they go through to have support are unique… She said that not only she has been impacted by the trauma, feeling grief and a strong sense of loss, but she also has been feeling a sense of dread and gloom. For this, the Illumine formula was a good choice, in addition to the two main formulas Post Trauma Stabilizer and Grief Relief. Illumine also has Pine for the sense of guilt.
She is very interested in following up with the essences, and wanted to make sure she knows the path of how to get resupplied. She was feeling confident that the essences will help her. I gave her information on all the possible ways to do that, including coming back to this free clinic in a month’s time to get a fresh supply of essences and give us her feedback.
Rosa - loss of husband and re-trauma
First thing she said to me was that one year ago, she had lost her husband after a long, very dramatic and painful illness. She was left with 4 young children, and has needed to cope on her own, working to support them and bring them up. Fortunately, she does have a job that more recently had finally settled into a more stable pattern. And she was beginning to feel a slight sense of owning her life again when the fires struck. They had to evacuate during the peak of the fires.
Even though they did not lose the house where they live, her life was deeply shaken again. As she endured the days of emergency and evacuation, the sense of not having anyone to share this life experience, with all its responsibilities, decisions, etc, was major. Not having her husband by her side protecting the family, and being, all of a sudden at the risk of losing everything, the only basis she had already built as a structure for their daily life, that was huge. So, since the fires happened, the trauma she had previously experienced is shaking her all over again. She is again grieving the loss of her husband as if it had just happened, and feeling all over again the sense of deep trauma and loss. The children are also afraid and feeling unsafe.
We talked extensively about how difficult it has been to have just settled back into a normal routine to then be re-traumatized in this way. She did repeat this many times: ‘I had just begun to feel I had my life together, and then this happens.’ So we talked about how important it was for her to take the essences and give them to the kids.
|We talked extensively about how difficult it has been to have just settled back into a normal routine to then be re-traumatized in this way.
They have been given: Post Trauma Stabilizer and Grief Relief for the whole family. And Fear-Less for the kids, especially the older boy (around 6 years old) who has been very anxious, with a lot of fears.
She told me she loves the flowers and always has them in her home and feels they have a healing effect in their life. And that she has a lot of confidence that the Flower Essences will help them. I also insisted that she goes to Farmacopia to get more essences if she runs out, and comes back for this clinic next month to talk to me again and get new essences for the next phase.
Vicenta - relationship separation and displacement
Some time before the fires she had made the hard decision of leaving her marriage, but for this she had to flee the house, and only gradually was she able to get back her personal belongings bit by bit. For that decision, she had the support of her two young adult children. She has a job and is able to support herself, and was beginning to build up her new life when the fires struck. They had to go into the shelters, and heard no word from the ex-husband. She commented on the fact that there was no word or gesture of care and support coming from him, as she and the son and daughter went through all the unsettling motions of being displaced. This made her feel anxious, unprotected and afraid. And more recently, she heard her ex-husband already has a new girlfriend and is moving in with her. This made her consider that maybe she wanted a reconciliation, even though before, she was so certain she wanted to be out of the relationship, as it was not healthy for her. And this was making her feel very unsettled, not being as clear and sure of her choices and ability to build a new life, based on her own resources and centered on her own needs.
She was given Post Trauma Stabilizer, Grief Relief (that also helps her process the separation, letting go of attachments that may not be healthy for her, based on her inner knowing that it is time for them to go their separate ways). Flora Sleep, to help soothe her mind and trust that there is a future for her.
She was also encouraged to continue taking the essences, to reach out for more through Farmacopia and come back next month to gives us her feedback.
Vicenta’s daughter - setting boundaries to allow self-care to occur
She was determined to also receive the help of the essences, and sat there until I was free to help her individually.
She is a 20 year old, a tall and good looking young woman, but at this present time her face is lacking color and her expression is lacking the spark of life someone her age should rightfully have. She told me she has been going through all of this (that her mother Vicenta shared above, including the impact of the fires in their lives), and for her, this has meant having no motivation. She has not been eating properly, has been staying mostly at home, not really moving, exercising, and very much away from interacting with others and with life. She is not studying right now, has a job, but has not been seeing other young people, has been mostly on her own, alone, not wanting to do anything.
It was clear to me just how much she needed to know she did not have to harbor within her the feelings and emotions of others, especially of her mother and her father, who are going through this bitter separation.
She was given the Yarrow Environmental Solution (YES) and Illumine, with a special emphasis on how important it is that she allows herself to live HER own life, and sort out what are HER own feelings and needs, so she can feel and process what is hers, and can allow others to own their lot of emotions to sort through. The Illumine formula is also an important one for her, with the yellow flowers helping to restore her inner luminance, and Pine allowing her to NOT feel responsible for her parents' happiness, allowing herself to care for her own self and life. They seem to have the resources for that, so I encouraged her to buy on the web, as a separate essence, the stock of the Gorse flower essence, as I felt she very much needed the endurance, resilience and luminosity that the Gorse plant has, that will add to the process of her having hope in her own life and in her own future, as she does have a life ahead that is her own.
| ...how important it is that she allows herself to live HER own life, and sort out what are HER own feelings and needs, so she can feel and process what is hers, and can allow others to own their lot of emotions to sort through.
She was also encouraged to come back next month, and to keep following up with flower essences as she moves through different stages of this journey.
Lorraine - the toll on a first responder
Previous to the fires, she had a very challenging situation come up in her life, in which she had to draw a boundary and felt guilt and grief around the suffering of a person she had to let go from her life.
So, when I asked her how the impact of the fires had been affecting her, once again the overlap came straight and clear.
Lorraine is part of the teams of first responders, and she has worked 12 hour shifts from the moment the fires happened into the following first weeks, and now has her day to day work routine backlogged, with the extra work related to the fire support team still requesting a lot of her time.
She was given the YES formula to take in her water, plus Post Trauma Stabilizer and Grief Relief.
In our conversation, I brought in a strong emphasis on the Echinacea and all the Yarrows, and how important it is for her as a helper, as a soul that came to this world to serve, to know she needs to honor her own needs, respect her own limits, tend to herself, as she makes herself available to be of service to the community and to others who are friends and acquaintances.
| ...how important it is for her as a helper, as a soul that came to this world to serve, to know she needs to honor her own needs, respect her own limits, tend to herself...
The overload of work during and in the aftermath of the fires has been a major cause of overwhelm and stress for which she certainly needed soothing support and help in her restoration, as she continues to serve so many.
As soon as we completed our talk about the essences, even before I gave her the directions on how to take them, she wanted to give me a hug. We did hug… she felt so deeply seen as a soul.
Young Teen - loss of school community
Her mother sits on one side, the father on the other side, this young teen sits at the center, and the father does a lot of the talking. He says they need help with her, because she is so anxious, always needing things to be so very perfect, worries too much and cannot relax. She has not been sleeping well. The father says she may lay there awake, gets up, reads something, has a hard time falling asleep.
The young teen is shy, says a few words when asked but lacks that daring quality and lets the parents do the talking. The parents are worried and really want her to get the help of the essences. So I make sure I ask more questions directly to her, and she does answer, talks a bit more and gives me more of her own perspective.
She says she is doing well at school, as far as her marks, and even as far as her ability to concentrate. Although lately (her mother adds) her concentration for studying has not been quite as good.
Then I asked how have the fires impacted them, and this explains a whole lot. As for the family, they did go through the scare, the threat of having to leave their house, but did not have to evacuate. They know people who have and people who have lost homes.
However, when I ask the girl how have the fires affected HER life, she tells me that one of the schools she was going to got burnt. In other words, she and all her colleagues lost their school. This is a major thing. She said she is now studying in another location, as all students had to be relocated to study at another part of town. All her routine was altered and a lot of people around her, related to her school life, had their lives changed by the fires in more profound ways. And this, both parents also agree, has created a deeper sense of fear and anxiety for her, that has made everything so much more difficult at this time.
| ...she tells me that one of the schools she was going to got burnt. In other words, she and all her colleagues lost their school. This is a major thing.
I can see she is a sensitive, very dedicated, perfectionist, and, at this present time, a shy young teenager, who needs to strengthen her courage and confidence to meet life’s challenges.
She is given Fear-Less to take in the morning, and in the afternoon after she gets back from school at 4:00pm. I can see how she will benefit from all the essences in the formula, in a special way from the Green Rose, strengthening her heart connection with Life, Mimulus giving her courage and daring, Mountain Pride helping her go and meet the challenges ahead. Also, the Red Clover will help her respond to what is actually happening to her, and not being triggered and more fearful because of everything that is happening with people around her. She was also given Flora Sleep, that, every day, she should start taking around the early evening, repeating it before sleep, and when taking a while to fall asleep, take the essence combination one more time. And again, in the middle of the night if she gets up. In this way, she can sleep more deeply, relax more, get a more profound rest, as a result of resting and quieting her very active mind. And then, as she starts her day, take Fearless and gather renewed strength and courage to challenge herself and face situations with more might and enthusiasm.
I could finally see her smiling to me, light in her eyes, and a sense of hope that she will embody these qualities moving forward!
They are encouraged to come back next month for more essences and to give us feedback on how she is and what her needs are. They seem pretty keen on making sure the directions on taking the essences will be followed.
Graciela - a double tragedy and loss
Is a woman in her late sixties or early seventies, going through a dramatic passage. One week ago her husband died, after a very long and painful struggle with bone cancer. They had been together for 55 years.
When the fires began, they received orders to evacuate. He was at home already in a terminal state, suffering tremendous pain, with cancer also affecting his internal organs and urinary system. On that night of the fires, in the rush of having to evacuate the house, he fell in the shower. They had to call an ambulance to move him to the hospital, and they were there for all the following weeks, with him suffering tremendous pain. Still in the hospital, he eventually died last Friday.
Graciela is devastated, her life now all shattered, and she is going through the most profound grief. And she is deeply traumatized by the accumulation of traumatic events over these last years of her life, culminating with the fire and the weeks until his death.
She and her husband met when they were at University, she was studying law and he was studying architecture. They have one 40 year old son.
She was given Grief Relief and Post-Trauma Stabilizer. The recommendation is that she takes Post-Trauma 4 times a day, and Grief Relief even more often, as often as she feels she needs, to give her some comfort, as she moves through the long process of grieving, of loss and of major change in her life.
She has been given a lot of herbal support as well, and is encouraged to come back in a month’s time to tell us how she is doing, get extra support and give us her feedback on where she is on her very challenging journey. I tell her she is going through a major Soul trial, her emotions all very intense and raw. This time needs to be honored and tended to. This is a time in which she needs to nurture and tend to her soul, so she has the spiritual fortitude to endure this very challenging passage. And, slowly, gradually, she will build herself up internally with her own sense of direction and purpose, to continue living her life as it gains its new form.