I cannot believe we are faced with yet another mass shooting in this country. My heart absolutely breaks for everybody directly involved with this massacre. Although I am a psychologist and have discussed countless tragedies with my clients over the years, I am still left speechless and devastated by these senseless acts of violence.
Coming to terms with a traumatic event, such as this weekend’s shooting, can be a very difficult task, but it is possible. I want to offer you some comfort and tips for dealing with this event for yourself and your children.
A traumatic event can make a damaging impact in your life and the lives of those you love. We are here to help you move away from feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and fear.
Understanding Trauma and its Effects
Trauma is a stress reaction that obstructs a person’s ability to cope with a tragic event in the manner they usually would. When it kicks in, you can sometimes feel as if the world around you is moving in an almost-surreal way. In many cases this feeling can be followed by denial, where you may try to refuse and deny the reality of the event. These conflicting and confusing emotions can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, yet they’re usually followed by additional complex thoughts and emotions. These include
- Fear – Feeling as if a similar traumatic event may repeat itself.
- Helplessness – Usually followed by overpowering vulnerability.
- Anger – It’s common for people to show anger towards the event or people responsible for it.
- Guilt – People may feel guilty for having survived an event that others didn’t.
- Sadness – A natural feeling that may be experienced following someone’s injuries or death.
- Embarrassment – It’s common for people to feel ashamed for not controlling their emotions, even when it’s out of their control.
- Relief – Often felt when the event’s danger has passed.
- Hope – Knowing that life will return to normality.
- Loneliness – Feeling as if they are the only ones experiencing a certain emotion and nobody will be able to understand.
The events that unfolded in Orlando this weekend have left a deep wound in the lives of many individuals from around the nation. How can you possibly go on living your life like you did before? In the weeks following the event, it is important for you and your loved ones to strengthen your resilience, the ability to adapt accordingly when faced with hardship. Here are some of the things that can help you do exactly that:
- Talk about it – Support from your closest friends and family can be comforting and reassuring. Talking with someone who has shared your experience will additionally help you feel less alone.
- Balance things out – It’s common for individuals to have a pessimistic or negative outlook following a traumatic event. Strive for a balance that will allow you a healthier perspective by reminding yourself of meaningful and comforting events, along with people in your life.
- Shut it down and rest – It’s also natural for you to want to stay informed on the tragic event’s situation, but you have to limit the amount of news you take in. The things you read and images you see could potentially re-ignite your feelings of distress.
- Take care – Continue to engage in healthy activities such as getting plenty of rest, exercising and eating healthy meals. This can enhance your ability to cope with your stress levels. Remember, it’s important to completely avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Be productive – You can help other individuals that have been affected by this incident or are in need of help. In the hours after the Orlando shooting many citizens took to clinics and health care centers around the area to donate blood.
Your Children Need Help, Too
Events such as the one that occurred over the weekend can remind us that, as a parent, you can’t protect your children from grief, but you can put all of your efforts into helping them express their feelings, comforting them and letting them know they’re safe. There’s a possibility you may not exactly know how to approach this situation with your children, but the psychologists of Rice Psychology Group in Tampa have the information you need:
- Give them the news – You don’t want your child to find out about the event from an outside source. By being the one to tell them, you’ll be able to retell the facts and set the emotional tone in the conversation.
- Provide answers – It’s important to give your children an opportunity to tell you anything they may have heard about the tragedy. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have, even if they include upsetting details. The goal of this is to halt any scary fantasies that may be brewing in their head.
- Be an example – It’s okay to let your child know you’re sad about the current situation, but avoid doing so in a highly emotional manner. Remaining calm will let them know traumatic events, although stressful, can be learned from.
- Reassure them – It can often be difficult to talk about death, but it’s important to let your child know how unusual an event of this nature really is. This will not only help them feel safer, but it will additionally boost their confidence by letting them know it’s our job to learn from negative experiences.
- Be appropriate – If you have a young child, it is best not to divulge too much information. Answer their questions honestly, clearly and, if you don’t have some answers, remember that difficult conversations of this nature can be had over different sessions in which your child can ask things again.
- Be there – Traumatic events can take an emotional toll on your children, so make sure to spend time with them to make them feel safe and at ease. Remember, children are comforted by routines, so do ordinary things as a family. Doing so will help them heal.
- Memorialize the loss – You can help provide closure for your child by helping them understand that people can continue to live on in the hearts and minds of others. Do so by helping them draw pictures, plant a tree or share stories to memorialize a loss.
Looking for Answers
Situations like the one that claimed so many lives in Orlando can often leave the public in a state of shock and wondering how something of this nature could ever happen. After reading the news, I immediately asked myself how purchasing an automatic weapon in our country is possible. Yet, I was just as confused by the fact that so many people want this to remain legal. I understand that people want the right to be armed and protect themselves, but I don’t believe regular citizens should have access to these military assault weapons. After all, in recent years they seem to cause more destruction than protection.
If you have questions about a traumatic event that has shaken up your life, or if you want to understand the emotional stress your loved one is going through as a result of a tragedy, Rice Psychology Group is here to help. Our psychologists are ready to listen to your story, help you comprehend your situation and face the reality of the event. Give us a call in Tampa for more information about the ways our team can help.
5 Responses to “Tragedy in Orlando: Dealing with Traumatic Events”
spot on Wendy. Thank you for putting it so well, I will be sure to share this here in Orlando.
Thank you! Hopefully this blog can help even one person get through the tough times we are living in.
Just for information. Those in the Orlando area who have been effected, there are licensed counselors offering servies for free based out of the unitarian church on Robinson. You can also contact the zebra coalition, or the LGBT center on mills for referrals for help and resources.
Thanks for helping all of us cope with tragedy and still hoping for the good and righteous in our cities our nation and our world. Good and God Will prevail whether we want it or not. Amen.
Thanks for sharing, and we also hope for a better and brighter future.