The Longing Lab

Marshall Fire Survivor & Trauma Expert Melissa Lockman on the Grief of Losing a Home

March 22, 2022 Amanda McCracken Season 1 Episode 2
The Longing Lab
Marshall Fire Survivor & Trauma Expert Melissa Lockman on the Grief of Losing a Home
Show Notes

Episode 2: Melissa Lockman, LCSW: Marshall Fire survivor speaks about her family’s experience processing the loss of their home and neighborhood, how everyone grieves differently, and the importance in validating loss and taking time to pause

Melissa Lockman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and maternal and infant mental health expert. She says she has “an exquisite reverence for the ability of humans to heal from trauma.” In addition to her mental health training, Melissa has a master’s degree in Feminist Studies and a bachelor’s in ecology. She is a Libra, a mother to two children (10 & 6 years old), and a wife to her life partner of 26 years. Melissa says she finds balance and connection where it is tenuous or hidden. On December 30th 2021, her family’s home and Cornerstone neighborhood were decimated in the Marshall Fire. She talks about how her family and neighbors are processing the trauma. 

Connect with Melissa:

In this episode, we talked about…

  • The “God moment” in their escape—her daughter’s insight
  • The moment they knew their home was gone & how they told their children
  • How her family members respond & grieve the loss of their home differently
  • How longing tastes differently when there is or isn’t a choice in the change
  • Her love for popovers and the role of smell in memory
  • The painful process of itemizing your entire life for insurance purposes
  • Perspectives on “Marshall Strong” and the terms “survivor” vs. “victim”
  • The outpouring of community help
  • How she sees herself as a container to the bodies and souls of her children
  • How to balance a healthy sense of longing without the corrosive nature of obsessing
  • Giving longing a place in time (validate loss and then pause)


“When we drove away from their neighborhood, we could see flames 150 yards away.”

“This tragedy would have been a whole other story if we had lost those guinea pigs.”

“We all process grief so differently in our family. It was four different universes of experiences all on one couch.”

“My daughter screamed and screamed and screamed. My son cried, ‘My Coca-Cola Haribo from my Christmas stocking…’ That was his moment of loss. Then he didn’t want to hear the word fire and wants to pretend we are on vacation.”

“We miss the sweet smell of our home on a Saturday morning. One of the first things people sent us was a new popover tin.”

“You let people be wherever they are. Grief is so different on the inside than what it looks like from the observer.” 

“In the past couple of weeks, we have said that we are each other’s home.”

" Often, something happens too fast for the nervous system to make sense of something overwhelming. When someone says to me, ‘I really miss that stack of photo albums that I’d been saving forever that I hadn’t scanned,’ I say, ‘Yes, and can we just pause there?’ and let the pause happen so the longing has a place, has a spot in time, and doesn’t get skipped over. If we can just pause in life more, I think it leads to a little more integration.” 


The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller

It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine

For traumatic healing check out

Let’s Connect