Earlier this month, Toronto hosted the  Invictus Games, spearheaded by concerned veteran and hero, Prince Harry. Everyone was inspired by the courage of the 550 wounded service people who travelled from 17 different countries to compete.

The Latin word “invictus” is translated “unconquered, unsubdued, invincible”. As Prince Harry said to the competitors: Right now, you’re on a high, at the summit of a mountain many of you thought was too high to climb. But you have done it. This is the moment, right here, right now, shoulder to shoulder: You are Invictus.”

As one competitor put it: “We can look at each other and know that every single one of us had to fight some battle to get from where we were to where we are now.” 

Those words could be a call to arms for ALL grieving people whose lives have been touched by tragedy.

In the field of post-traumatic stress, the concept of “Post-Traumatic Recovery” is emerging. It shifts the belief of trauma as an “injury” or a “sickness” to where the ordeal is better regarded as “impact”. That paradigm shift moves the conversation away from “what is wrong with you” to “what has happened to you”, away from the substance of the reaction to the significance of the event.

In other words, this new perspective reveals that it is what is able to develop from within the person that is the significant element in their recovery. Growth after any loss is not a direct result of loss itself, but is rather related to how the individual struggles as a result of the trauma and loss they have experienced. This enables us to return to a less “pathological” model of grief support, to where we state that “Change is never without struggle; but in the struggle we find strength.”

That statement was powerfully illustrated in the Invictus Games.