Sense of Safety Extinguished

On May 2nd in Fort McMurray people were about their daily business:

  • Children and teens were in classrooms
  • Adults were at work, looking for work, at Keyano College or caring at home for others
  • People had appointments or lists of chores or things to do
  • All the stores were open for business
  • There was gasoline freely available
  • It was a warm spring day with some smoke and ashes in the air
  • All and all it was a normal spring day in Fort McMurray with smoke in the air
  • Seasoned Fort McMurrities were used to smoke in the air as always there was always smoke blowing in from a fire somewhere north, south, east or west…

Twenty-four hours later life changed dramatically for everyone:

  • The smoke and ashes in the air had turned the day in to night
  • The heat of the fire was all around and it felt like you were next to a furnace
  • The radio was advising that communities around the city were being evacuated
  • Highway 63 the only road in and the only way out was at risk of being closed
  • The word Trapped flew around in my mind
  • No one was in charge and no one came forward to take charge
  • The sounds of sirens filled the air
  • There was no sense of safety in this environment, no place to go that felt safe
  • This was a life threatening situation…..this was a sense for everyone of a threat for their safety, security and survival

You and your family were exposed to an unexpected event that engaged your primal survival system.  In addition, you lost your sense of secure base (Bowby) ….your home.  Home is vitally important to our sense of safety, security and familiarity.   Your home holds the items you value  and care about. Things that are important to you and your family. Many people lost their homes in the fire….Everything.  Then there is the psychological loss of being disconnected from what was our secure base.

It seems to me that McMurrites are like a tribe without a home … The word nomad comes to mind. With so many things to deal with at once, here are a few things to consider:

  •  There is no right or wrong in how you think, feel and experience the situation.
  •  There is no right or wrong in how others think, feel and experience the situation
  • There is no competition over who felt or experienced the worst in this situation
  •  This is a time period in your life, where each day you move a little further away from the experience


  •  Try to get back into a routine or schedule even if it is only for a few minutes each day

Acknowledge  any discomforting thoughts and feelings that you have and Rate the thoughts or feelings on a scale of 1 (little) to 10 (very big).  This way you can keep track of how your thoughts and feelings are shrinking.

  • Write them down
  •  Draw them out
  •  Turn on some music and dance them out
  •  Turn on your imagination


Please let me know if you find other ways to help, I am always interested in learning from my clients and others.  I have a list of great ideas, thank you






We delight in the beauty
of the butterfly
but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through
to achieve that beauty.
~ Maya Angelou

You can learn more about
a person in one hour of play
than you can in
one year of
- Plato -