Trauma can be individual and have wide-ranging effects on a community. Jak Saul, in his work Collective Trauma, Collective Healing, states: “An inevitable consequence of natural and human-caused disaster is what we refer to as ‘collective trauma,’ the shared injuries to a population’s social, cultural, and physical ecologies (Collective Trauma, Collective Healing: Promoting Community Resilience in the Aftermath of Disaster). When a community goes through a trauma, it shapes the culture moving forward. While all large-scale events have a societal impact, how much impact is determined by how community-oriented the culture was prior to the event.
It can be helpful for caregivers to understand these collective trauma markers as they commit to caring for people within a group.
Take this example:
When responding to the care for those in communities affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia, West Africa, caregivers did well to know that the community had come through a dramatic and tragic civil war just a few years prior. While Ebola certainly had a transformative impact, the trauma from the war was still present. Some caregivers were surprised that conversations would often turn toward memories of the war rather than the more recent Ebola epidemic.
Culture takes time to be shaped and changed. The effects of current events on culture won’t often be seen until years later.