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Trauma at a Distance

Trauma at a Distance

by Margaret Fiero

The last week in America has been like none other since perhaps 9/11. One difference between this week and that deadly one in New York almost twelve years ago, is that this week involved more than one day of traumatic events. Tragedy first struck on Monday with the Boston Marathon Bombings, then disaster hit again Wednesday night with the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Photos show a mushroom cloud hanging over the small town; as of Saturday morning, 14 people were dead. The chaos continued with the escalating manhunt for the Boston bombers. Thursday night saw firefights between the police and the suspects, resulting in the death of one officer and one suspect, as well as another officer being critically wounded. The other suspect escaped and Boston was on complete lockdown all day as the search continued. The whole country let out a sigh of relief and Boston residents cheered in the streets when the surviving suspect was finally apprehended Friday evening.

I find even writing about all this exhausting, so I can’t imagine how it would have felt to be there. Still, those of us at a distance from the carnage of both Boston and West may find ourselves unsure of how to process it all. How do we, those who are watching on TV or reading about it, deal with such catastrophes? We are not physically affected; life goes on for us, free from lockdown or disaster cleanup.  However, we can’t avoid feeling the effects in some way. We may even feel guilty that we were spared the devastation. Perhaps we feel afraid – couldn’t it happen to us, wherever we may be located?

If you are left deflated and depressed over watching last week’s tragic weeks unfold from however many miles away, the following are methods that may help you work through some of your feelings about what happened:

  1. Talk about it. If you don’t have anyone with whom to talk, talk with your therapist. Not only is the way you process these events important, it is important to your children as well. Your reaction to it will influence their sense of security. Even if you weren’t directly affected, you can still discuss it with a professional.
  2. Pause to recognize the losses, both great and small. Last week left us with much to grieve.  Along with the loss of individuals’ lives, health and livelihoods, a collective a sense of security was lost as well. An entire town was devastated. All the joy was stripped from a beloved event and replaced with terror.
  3. Give help where it is needed. A simple search online yields many opportunities to do so. For instance, there’s Pointwest Bank in West, Texas, which is taking donations for the victims of the explosion.

Do you or a loved one need any assistance dealing with trauma? We are here to help. Many of our counselors offer EMDR Therapy for PTSD and Trauma. If you are ready, you can contact us to make a counseling appointment. For an additional blog post on trauma, you can read 5 Things Catching Fire Teaches Us About Trauma.

Please check out the following online resources may for more information on how to cope with the tragedies of this last week:

SAMHSA: Coping with Traumatic Events 

WebMD Boston Bombing Aftermath

WBUR: How to Talk with Children About Boston Marathon Bombs

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

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