Coping with the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy


The world has watched in shock and sadness this week, as the trauma of the Las Vegas mass shooting continues to have ripple effects of grief across the globe.

This horrific event was the largest mass shooting in US history, with 58 people losing their lives, and 489 others wounded. Needless to say, this extremely violent act will have widespread traumatic effects, in the United States and around the world.

The traumatic effects of terrorism, hate crimes or tragedy can be significant and widespread, affecting any number of demographics:

  • Survivors of past traumatic events
  • People who personally witnessed or were victims of the trauma
  • People who experience second-hand trauma from learning of their friends or family members’ experiences with the trauma
  • Re-traumatization from repeated exposure to the trauma in media

The side effects of these kinds of traumas can range from person to person, and can include: flashbacks, heightened sense of fear, survivor guilt, etc. There are many ways you can cope with trauma after tragedy and terrorism, the main thing being to identify your feelings and understand they are a normal reaction to the circumstances.

We change our minds by putting feelings into words. Doing this develops important neural networks in the brain that help to integrate trauma. Understanding our feelings, tolerating our feelings, and being able to communicate them with significant people in our lives is often a culmination of all the steps of healing. — Kim Barthel from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’

More tips for coping include:

  • Remind yourself that you can and have overcome adversity
  • Talk to people about your feelings and fears
  • It’s okay to ask for help
  • ‘Relentless positivity’ (as discussed in ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’)
  • Be realistic with your healing process and emotions, understand it takes time
  • Continue to do the things that you enjoy
  • Limit media or social media exposure
  • Understand you couldn’t have done anything to change what happened
  • Be kind to yourself, practice self-care

Please note: if you are having trouble coping with recent tragedy or trauma, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. Psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals are trained to help people cope and take positive steps toward managing their feelings and behaviours.

If you’re interested in learning more about trauma and healing, read our blog. Continue this conversation about trauma, please connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out more about ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’ on our website.



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