I wanted to write this post on monday, but I sat and stared at the blank screen for awhile and then closed my computer. I hardly have words to say about the shooting in Connecticut. My heart breaks for all of those affected, knowing that this is something that will forever be part of their story. We each face grief, loss, or trauma in different ways throughout our lifetime (unfortunately). Here are a few tips for dealing with times of tragedy.
1. For those who didn’t immediately experience the trauma but are in close relationship with that person (i.e. family members, pastors, counselors), something called “secondary trauma” can occur. It’s definitely something to be aware of, and you can read more about it here.
2. When things like the shooting happen, it can trigger an individual into grief and loss they previously experienced. It can bring up all sorts of previous thoughts and emotions, which can be confusing if you aren’t directly affected by the present loss. Please understand that this isn’t abnormal and you aren’t crazy (even though I know that sometimes it feels like that’s what’s happening!).
3. Kids will hear about events like this, so it’s important not to completely ignore it (they may assume that it isn’t ok to talk about their thoughts if it’s a “silent topic”). Obviously all the details don’t need to be shared, but try to speak appropriately to your child. Let them share their thoughts and feelings, ask questions, or express their anger. Be a listening ear and support to them. Check out this link about how to talk to children about disasters.
4. Learn how to recognize the signs of PTSD. Please seek help if you are experiencing these: Mayo Clinic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Information.
5. Get support! As humans we aren’t meant to do life alone, but in community with others. Reach out to those around you! It’s ok to ask for help (it doesn’t mean you are weak or admitting defeat), both from friends and loved ones, as well as therapists!
6. There are times where you might feel like you want to harm yourself or that life isn’t worth continuing in light of what you’ve experienced. If you are having self harming or suicidal thoughts, please do one of the following things: contact the national suicide prevention hotline, call 911, or go to your local Emergency Room.
*Please understand that this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list in regards to loss and tragedy, but a few things to get you thinking. When it comes to grief and loss, it can feel like we’re helpless, at a complete loss, or going crazy. Please don’t be afraid to see help and support through this time of loss.
Now it’s your turn to share! Do you have any personal tips you’ve developed from dealing with grief of your own?
*This post is not meant to take the place of a doctor or mental health professional. If you’ve experiencing depression, anxiety (or PTSD), lasting grief, or suicidal thinking, please contact your doctor or a mental health professional.