voices in the family

Out of nowhere


We silly humans tend to think we know what tomorrow brings; this gives us a sense of comfort and security. But life has a way of throwing things our way, seemingly out of nowhere. Things we subsequently label as good or bad can catch us off guard, make us feel off-kilter, and change our course. Furthermore, how we cope with life’s surprises says a lot about how resilient we are and how much self-compassion we have.

Dan Gottlieb leads a discussion about how life comes at us and how we cope with guests Leslie Becker-Phelps and Bea Hollander-Goldfein.

Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, New Jersey. She writes a blog for PsychologyToday.com, another blog for WebMD, and is the expert on WebMD’s ‘Relationships and Coping’ Community.

Bea Hollander-Goldfein is a staff psychologist at The Council for Relationships (CFR). She’s the director of the research project Transcending Trauma: Exploring Psychological Mechanisms of Survival which focuses on Holocaust survivor families. She written “Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience, and Clinical Implications in Survivor Families” along with Nancy Isserman and Jennifer Goldenberg.

We’ll also hear a local woman’s incredible story of transcending trauma.

Related article: “Living the Life We Have” by Dan Gottlieb

Photo by Flickr user conowithonen


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  • shelly

    My daughter lost her husband on 9/11. She was 7 months pregnant with her 3rd child. The outpouring of love and help from her community,family, friends, and strangers, led her to start a foundation that helps Afghanistan widows – women who receive zero support from their community. She eventually traveled to Afghanistan to meet the women she is helping.

  • Tegan

    Thank you for discussing this challenging topic and for showing the variety of life situations that can be traumatic. Trauma is such a difficult thing because different people respond so differently to adversity. Thank you for acknowledging this and for also acknowledging that overcoming trauma is at times a lengthy and difficult process. It is so important to seek help from friends, family and professionals when the challenges are bigger than you. I think we live in a culture that expects people to just move on after a painful experience. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!”

    You have to honor yourself and give yourself time to heal. As with the one gal who was interviewed during the program indicated it can be hardest to heal from the emotional and psychological repercussions of traumatic and unexpected experiences especially if they are violent or sexual in nature. In dealing with my own trauma I am thankful that I reached out to a counselor to help me make sense of a senseless and violent experience. The psychological triggers are hardest to deal with for many of those with trauma because we cannot easily control them…you jump at sounds or sudden movements and certain things you hear or see bring back a flood of emotions.

    It can be hard to be patient with yourself and it can also be difficult to not step over into self-pity by allowing yourself to be consumed by self-pity of grief. There is a line to walk if the victim is to reclaim themselves and no longer be a victim (in the sense that the event controls them and dictates or defines their lives). Time and distance are great healers but the first step should be sharing your story with others and being open to healing.

    I think one thing worth noting that I didn’t hear in the program is that there is sadly a temptation for people who have faced difficult situations or events to ignore or push out overwhelming trauma with drugs or alcohol or other risky behaviors. It takes a lot of strength to seek out help, to face yourself and to own your hurt…but although the healing process can be hard its worth the journey.




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