On a cold day in December, in the town of Newtown, Connecticut, the lives of 26 people and their families changed forever. This tragedy has been indelibly imprinted on the psyche of the nation. The victims that were in that school that day suffered a death that could not be any more gruesome and violent. The family members of those victims will have to suffer a lifetime with their losses and the anxiety of asking, “What if?” “What if I’d kept my son home?” “What if I’d done something different?” However, along with those aforementioned mourners, we must not forget one other set of affected victims. You and your family.
As you sat and watched these horrible images, the trauma that you have been exposed to must not be downplayed. We must realize that this vile act has had a distinct affect on who we are as a people. The reasoning for my thought process on this topic is very clear: Think back on how news was delivered just 25 years ago. The news aired twice a day. And you saw it, at most, once a day. Now, with the advent of 24/7 direct news coverage, viewers are constantly bombarded with sad, violent, and graphic images.
The citizens of Sandy Hook are definitely experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, but by watching all of the television and internet coverage, many people are feeling stressed as well. This is surely amplified when someone has to drop their children off at school.
I must affirm that these feelings are totally normal. Here are a few tips that I have found to help reduce anxiety and stressful feelings after traumatic events:
Be mindful of your exposure to television news coverage, and, more importantly, limit your children’s time in front of the tube.
Pick a cause and donate either time or money to help.
Finally, explain the event to your kids and allay any fears they may have.
As a society, we have weathered many traumatic events and I am sure we will endure many more. The appropriate recognition, management and treatment of the stress and trauma from witnessing these events unfold is paramount for all of us as we travel through this maze of life in the age of technology.