In the hours and days after a traumatic event happens, either within our own communities or far away, we often come across a number of reactions, feelings, and thoughts. It can be difficult to fully process what is happening around us and equally difficult to determine where we go from here.
These kinds of events seem to be less and less unusual, but our natural reactions to them are generally not less difficult. Many of us will struggle with feelings of anger and helplessness, looking for solutions and ways to feel a little more safe and in control. In these moments, we have the opportunity to choose which path we will take, together.
We can often become caught up in fear, not being able to move past the immediate and obvious negativity of what is happening around us. This is okay, for a time. It is okay for us to feel angry when painful, harmful, and tragic events like these happen. It is when we do not allow ourselves to see outside of these feelings that we can become a part of the larger problem.
When we become so fixated on anger and pain that we do not see the good, kind, and hopeful moments happening at the same time, we can easily harm ourselves and others. It is crucial that we remember in difficult times how resilient we are as individuals and as communities. We are so much stronger than we think and our capacity to come together is what shines through.
So, what can we do to care for ourselves and others in the coming days, weeks, and months?
Allow whatever comes. Allowing ourselves and others to feel and act exactly as they are, without judgement is important. Whatever comes naturally to us is perfectly alright, whether that is silence, talking, crying, laughing, or anything in between.
Find a group. Support groups can be an incredible resource for many of us feeling a need for some extra care and support through a shared community. We can also create our own groups with the people around and even with those far away!
Reach out to those we love. Checking in, talking to, and getting together with the people we love can help us immeasurably in times of stress.
Deepening patience. In times like these, patience can feel difficult and even painful, but we often need much more of it. Knee-jerk reactions typically serve to make problems much greater. No matter how difficult, taking a step back and seeing the full picture before acting is rarely regretted.
Opening up, not shutting down. Being vulnerable with one another, being honest about how we’re feeling, trusting one another, and helping to support one another is crucial in these moments. When we put up walls as a means of protection, we only further ourselves from genuine connection and healing.
Share. Sharing our stories, our fears, and what brings us comfort, helps us and others to heal together. Recognising that others may not be ready to share as readily as we are is equally important. When we feel ready, share. Our insights and experiences might truly help those around us.
Make time for what feels good. When we give ourselves the space to do the little things that bring us calm, joy, and even a sense of peace, we are allowing ourselves to heal. The list of what we can do is personal to what makes us feel good, but here are a few good places to start.
In times of tragedy, we have a great opportunity to create a stronger community and our actions in the coming days and months show how deeply we are able to connect, reach out, and support one another. We can choose anger or we can choose resilience. It is up to us.
We welcome your experiences, thoughts, and tips in the comments below.