Last week was an incredibly long and hard week given that grief and loss is hard, as we all know. No doubt our thoughts and prayers remain with the people involved in, and affected by, the Boston bombing tragedy and the fertilizer plant explosion in West in my home State of Texas.
One of the organizations with which I am involved is called My Healing Place. It provides grief, loss and trauma counseling for the people of Central Texas and anyone in need. Below is a cut/paste of a resource document distributed today by the outstanding My Healing Place staff. Perhaps it will be helpful.
May our prayers continue for all who are hurting across our lands, Melody
Dear Friends and supporters of My Healing Place,
As we reflect on the tragedies that have occurred within our country this past week in Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas, our hearts break for those directly impacted, and those impacted through awareness of such devastating events. These events have in many ways evoked important discussions about feelings of grief, safety, and what to do when faced with such tragedy.
The media tends to provide us with prolonged exposure to the disturbing, and often times uncensored, live and real sights and sounds from such tragedies. While it is incredibly important to know what is happening in our country and within our world, watching and listening to such sensory-provoking media coverage repeatedly can lead to feelings of secondary trauma (especially for children). While it is not at all uncommon or abnormal to feel disturbed, distraught, and a high level of empathy for all victims of such tragedy, we may unknowingly over-expose ourselves to the violent and traumatic images and cries of the Boston bombings.
With that in mind, we offer some recommendations for protecting against secondary trauma:
1) Recognize How You Feel and Act. Whether you know it or not, you must deal with your own secondary trauma. Helping others can make us feel better, but it can become a way to avoid how you feel and you may miss the impact you are having on others. Allow time to sit with your feelings and be mindful of them.
2) Focus More on What You Are Doing/Going to Do and Not Why This Happened. It will be a long time before we have all the answers. You may become more depressed and anxious if you spend a lot of time trying to figure out who did what, when, where and why. We need to know something about what happened – but not everything. Doing something positive can be more important than understanding every detail and looking at every picture, video and news special on television.
3) Find Balance in Your Life. More than anything, people need to restore balance to their lives. It is not helpful to become obsessed with what happened – especially if your responsibilities to your children, work, relationships, or marriage suffer. Focus on what is important in your life, and give energy to those people/things.
*Adapted from writings of Dr. Michael G. Connor (Board Certified psychologist of Traumatic Stress, Emergency Crisis Intervention, and Emergency School Response).
Many say that events such as these can also show us the "hero" that lives within people. Several news sources are reminding us of the beautiful words of beloved Fred Rogers (better known as the leader of PBS children's show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"), who once said, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
Please let us know of any way that we can serve as helpers to you and your loved ones.
Wishing you thoughts of comfort and hope of healing,
My Healing Place Staff