I know people mean well and most have a genuine concern, but when people ask me if we’ve lost our home I shudder. We didn’t. But many have and I cannot imagine how painful it may be to be asked such questions. For some it may not bother them to talk about it, but for others being questioned feels somewhat insensitive.
I have heard stories of people going through major life events like divorce, the death of a loved one, or a serious illness and had the added stress of dealing with losing their homes; And even if they haven’t, for some talking about the wildfire that inflicted such damage in Fort McMurray is simply too much. At this time people need as much loving support as they can get, and they need understanding and compassion. Dealing with the aftermath is exhausting and traumatic. Life as we knew it ended on May 3rd when we were forced from our homes. It will take time to process the grief and to find the courage to move on. My daughter shared a story with me of being pointed out in a group of people as being from Fort Mac. She was mortified. She didn’t want to share her story with total strangers. She is very introverted and does not share personal experiences at the best of times, much less now. Personally, I am more middle of the road – I am very social sometimes, at other times I am an introvert like my daughter. Sometimes I don’t mind the questions, particularly if the person I am speaking with has a personal connection to Fort Mac. At Other times, if I sense the inquiry is to satisfy a morbid curiosity or is just grist for the rumour mill I am more reticent.
People have been so very kind, caring, and generous with their immediate response to evacuees. I just hope people realize the wounds are deep, for some deeper than others. Every evacuee has their own story. Whether or not they wish to share it is a very personal decision. Let us all respect the right of individuals to choose what to share, how much to share, and when. Let us all be sensitive and employ sense and sensibility.