Coping With Senselessness – via SMOHIT
In light of the recent tragic and unforeseen events in Las Vegas, counselor Daria Todor, ACSW, LCSW-C, has written the following article about coping with senselessness. We hope you find it valuable.
Trauma comes in all sizes. The murders and injuries of hundreds of innocent, music-loving concert-goers in the heart of Las Vegas has caused trauma of a magnitude too huge for most of us to imagine let alone bear. Yet bear it we must. Those of you in Las Vegas have the hardest job. May you find solace in knowing that there is so much love and support for all of you throughout our country. We are here for you.
You might wonder what talking to someone can do to help after an event like this. I won`t bore you with the data, but let me just say that we are social creatures, and we are story tellers. We derive meaning from what happens to us when we try to make sense of something, especially when we tell it to someone who truly listens. We are continually telling our life`s story to ourselves. It is part of our identity. If I am anything, I am a trained listener and storyteller. I listen at many levels-for what is said and more importantly sometimes what isn`t, as well as how and why it is expressed. I am in many ways a witness to peoples` inner worlds, similar to a guide who accompanies people as they travel to places too difficult to tread alone. I am privileged to be entrusted with such responsibility.
I have responded to trauma during our nation`s 9/11 attacks-at first in our country`s capital, assisting DoD contractors who lost workers in the Pentagon, then flight attendants at Dulles Airport and the Flight Attendants` union office in DC, and finally in NYC across from Ground Zero. There on Wall Street in buildings I met with hundreds of workers and citizens who had been in the towers themselves and survived, or who had watched that national horror unfold from other buildings and the streets below. I was sent as a psychological first responder to help people cope in those initial days, when our world was set topsy-turvy from one of seeming safety to one of lost innocence.
9/11 wasn`t my first call to duty. I have helped many workplaces, families, communities and individuals cope with trauma and loss before and since then. I have responded to bank robberies, suicides, sudden deaths of children as well as adults. I lived in the DC area when the DC snipers wreaked terror on our community (I lived less than 2 miles from the first killing). I not only had to respond to those in need psychologically, but I too had to learn how to pump gas during that time, using my car as a shield, stooping low and keeping a vigilant eye toward possible danger, then scrambling back into the safety of my car, until the shooters were apprehended.
Like the Las Vegas killer, the snipers had murdered people doing ordinary things (like pumping gas, leaving a home improvement store, sitting at a bus stop). The contrast between the ordinariness of everyday events and the terror they spread is what made these events all the more traumatic. I speak from experience and know that reaching out and sharing what you are dealing with is therapeutic. It lessens the load.
Some people say they are afraid to talk about these terrible events because they are afraid that they will start crying and never stop. Some people don`t cry at all and wonder what is wrong with them. There is nothing wrong with them. Some people just aren`t criers so if you aren`t someone who does, don`t worry.. And if you do start, it does stop. It is time limited. That is the beauty of our bodies. It knows what it needs to do a lot of the times.
Right now, many people are still in a state of shock. They feel a sense of unreality, numbness. Others can`t sleep or are sleeping too much, or turning to alcohol or drugs or TV or computer-bingeing. The body steps in to try to cope with the horror. It wants us to heal. Healing can and will occur. Thing is, we can help it along or hinder its progress. One of the best ways to help healing is to acknowledge the injuries, psychological is what I am talking about here, and allow the pain to occur. Since many of us never learned how to do this well, it is useful to reach out to someone who can coach you toward that end. That`s where I come in.
Call me. I can be reached at 877-884-6227 if you are feeling like you just need to try to make sense of what has happened, about how to talk to your children, about how to turn something terrible into a point of growth. And it doesn`t have to be about the shootings. Sometimes a big event like this sets off something that is seemingly unrelated. It is a trigger for something unresolved, for instance. So please don`t think you can`t call because you didn`t lose someone or you weren`t there. We were all there because we all are connected, like it or not.
Know that whatever you are feeling is normal and natural in response to this terrible event. If you are feeling or thinking or behaving in ways that concern you, know that you are not alone. Most of us will get beyond this. Those who were there or those with loved ones who were there and survived or died will be coping with this for the rest of their lives. Collectively and individually they will move through those stages of grief-shock, anger, bargaining, depression and great yearning, and finally resolution and acceptance of a new reality. Those of us who weren`t there are also grieving because we have yet again lost another level of our sense of innocence and safety.
I hope to hear from you. In the meantime, take care of yourself. Reach out to family and friends, eat well, get some exercise and enough sleep to fuel your days. If you haven’t checked out my post of my favorite 10 resources, review those and give them a try.
Best, Daria Todor