Suggestions for Helping Yourself and Others You Care About

After a significant trauma, it is often important to give yourself time to reflect and to take some specific actions of self care in order to gradually allow life to return to normal. These actions often involve some emotional tasks, some interpersonal tasks, and taking some specific actions that allow life to continue while you are recovering from the effects of the trauma.

Acknowledge the event. Give yourself time and permission to think clearly about the event.

Take your feelings seriously. Your emotional reactions are important signals to you that this event has occurred and you need some time to heal. To ignore and cover up the sadness, anger, fear, guilt and all the other feelings that go with a traumatic event are like ignoring a physical pain that signals a serious injury.

Talk to others. Often friends are the best support group. Make it OK to talk with each other about the loss and about each other’s feelings. This is often the best way to help sort out your own feelings and thoughts as well as to recognize you are not alone.

Make necessary accommodations. It is normal for people not to be able to function at their full capacity when trying to deal with such an emotional situation. Ask for help in making these temporary adjustments in your life.

Be patient. It takes time to recover from a traumatic event. Everyone is affected differently. Respect your own and others’ ways of dealing with the event. Some will be more vocal or expressive than others with their feelings and thoughts.

Don’t forget. Just because everything seems to be back to normal does not mean that you or others have finished having feelings about the event. Don’t be surprised at reactions that come later on.