Coping With Tragedy

by Steven Carney on July 22, 2012

I live in Colorado, outside Denver. Like many people, I’ve been shocked and saddened by the recent Batman movie shootings. I know many people around the U.S. and the world have also been affected, so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions for coping with tragedy.

Suggestion #1

It’s common to feel shock, anger, sadness, fear, disbelief, and even guilt when events like the shooting take place. For those families who are the most directly affected, my thoughts and condolences are with you. I’m so deeply sorry for your loss! This was yet another terrible situation where people who feel disconnected from their humanity use guns.

For everyone, don’t be afraid to ask family or friends for help and support, including trusted social media contacts or professionals who can offer guidance. Unfortunately, we still have a stigma for mental/emotional health issues in the U.S. (especially for men), and that stigma often contributes to these terrible events. Seeking help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness, especially when you feel down, depressed, or bewildered.

Also, you might be able to help others, by just listening to them, and that can bring feelings of connection and support for you as well.

If it talking about it is not comfortable, try writing down your thoughts and feelings on paper or in a computer program to help you process what has happened. Use whatever works for you!

Suggestion #2

Keep as many routines as you can; they can provide some needed structure. You may feelstrong emotionals and psychological pain rise to the surface at times. This was traumatic for many, many people, so expect some disruption of your normal level of concentration. It’s okay to process the shock, grief and fear in smaller pieces. You don’t have to figure it all out or work through it all at once. Like the grieving process, it can take some time, with good days and challenging ones. So it’s okay to feel a bit off and out of sorts.

And please don’t ignore your health! Snack on healthy, whole foods like nuts, veggie sticks, olives, fruit or proteins. Avoid bingeing on processed foods, such as sodas, chips, cookies, crackers, candy or ice cream. Those high-sugar/refined carb foods will cause your energy and brain to be whiplashed by sugar spikes and crashes. You’ll feel worse, not better! And stay active by walking or engaging in other activities you enjoy. If you have a park or place to hike nearby, nature can have a calming effect.

Suggestion #3

If you have children or neighbor kids that are anxious and have questions, it’s okay to acknowledge that a bad thing happened and that they are safe. Keep any discussion age appropriate (I’d skip the terrible details) and help them to feel comfortable.

You can pivot to talking about safety in a more general way, suggesting that they stay aware and alert to their surroundings, helping them to feel like they can take positive action.

Consider other positive actions, such as donating to the victims and their families, having some quiet time to acknowledge your feelings and your sense of loss, or participate in gatherings or vigils. In other words, do whatever things can lead to healing for you and those you love!

If you were affected by this tragedy and your life is being disrupted, I’m offering some free coaching sessions to give people a chance to work through some feelings.

Some helpful links:

http://www.familyaware.org/top-depression/coping-after-a-tragedy.html

http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster/helping-children-handle-disaster-related-anxiety

For people in Colorado, here are some local resources (you may have similar resources in your area):

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/07/20/colorado-experts-offer-advice-on-dealing-with-aurora-tragedy/

© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

{ 2 comments }

jan July 22, 2012 at 8:51 PM

That’s extremely kind of you Steve. Although I live half way on the other side of the world, we all share the shock and anguish that this could happen.

Steve July 23, 2012 at 7:33 AM

Thanks Jan! I hope you are well!

I live about 45 minutes drive to that area and I’ve been over there in the past (I live NW of Denver, the shooting was just east of Denver). I’m definitely feeling the shock as well!

I hope you’ve feeling good with your new diet changes!

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