On April 15, 2013 our lives were changed yet again. Two bombs went off during the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 183 others. Once again our country was the victim of violence, and for reasons none of us can truly understand.
In the week since, we’ve all huddled close as a nation, as we once again wait for news about another attack to our country- to our people! And as our hearts ache for those whose lives have been forever altered, or snuffed out completely by two madmen, we wonder if we’ll ever feel safe; if our children will ever feel safe. How do we go on yet again? And as we ask these questions our minds turn, as they always do, to the victims before these and we find that the wounds we thought were healed are still there, waiting to be reopened yet again.
Psychological trauma is the direct result of events like these that threaten to shatter the very foundation of our sense of security. We feel scared and vulnerable and suspicious of those around us. And if you’re like me, you may even find yourself coping with rage you never knew you were capable of, for these two betrayers who have the audacity to kill innocents.
Coping With the Trauma
An attack on an American is an attack on us all, and even those of us who were nowhere near Boston can still experience strong emotions. If you’re having a hard time coming to terms with this senseless tragedy, here are a few tips on how to cope:
- Identify with your feelings and understand that they’re perfectly normal.
- Talk to others about your feelings.
- Make an effort to continue with your usual routine.
- Think of ways you’ve overcome trauma in the past and remember how you overcame your feelings of helplessness and fear.
- Remember that things will get better.
- Remember that it will take some time before things do get better.
- Continue to do the things that bring you joy. Don’t let fear make you a prisoner.
- Take comfort in the fact that our government is working hard to combat terrorism.
- Limit your exposure to media coverage.
- Consider seeking professional help if you’re having difficulty coping.
Those of us with children face a particularly unpleasant and painful task- explaining what happened to our kids. Here are some suggestions on how to talk to children about terrorism:
- Encourage children to talk about how they’re feeling and listen to what they say.
- Ask them what they’ve heard and clarify when necessary.
- Assure them that they’re safe and that you’ll help them overcome any fears they have.
- Explain to them that our government employs people to keep us all safe.
The most important thing of all during this painful time is to realize that emotions are high and everyone is coping with this tragedy in the best way that they can. Give yourself and others a break. Try to be a little kinder than you might otherwise be to both friends and strangers. We all process tragedy differently, and we can all benefit from a little tenderness right now.
Processing the Rage
If you find yourself wrapped up in anger as I sometimes am, perhaps you could benefit from focusing on the stories of courage and love that came out of this senseless tragedy. In the wake of this terrible attack, Bostonians opened up their homes to strangers who had nowhere to go. Spectators ran to the scene of the blast to help others. Runners passed the finish line and ran to blood banks to donate. Unbelievably, the American Red Cross reported that thanks to volunteers, there was enough blood on the shelves to meet demand. Countries around the world have offered their condolences in our time of need, and our country has once again shown that we as a people are good and caring. Those are the thoughts that help temper some of my anger. We have been dealt another bitter blow, but our humanity in the face of this unspeakable horror is unshakable. We are Americans and we will never be broken.
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