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In a blink of an eye, your life can change. People in a movie theater expecting to be entertained in a world of violent fantasy instead become involved in a horrific act of real violence that is impossible to comprehend. And then it quickly becomes deeply personal for all of us observing from afar.

I have found myself over the past 24 hours thinking about this event off and on…the horror of it, the senseless killings, the lives forever changed….we suddenly are a nation of people all shoulder to shoulder, touched by these killings, and trying to make sense of it.

What is recommended when a traumatic event turns your world upside down?

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After surviving a disaster or act of violence, people may feel dazed or even numb…even those of us who has only experienced it from the news. We may also feel sad, helpless, or anxious. In spite of the tragedy, some people just feel happy to be alive.

It is not unusual to have bad memories or dreams. You may avoid places or people that remind you of the disaster. You might have trouble sleeping, eating, or paying attention. Many people have short tempers and get angry easily.

These are all normal reactions to stress.  It may take time before you start to feel better.

You may have strong feelings right away. Or you may not notice a change until much later, after the crisis is over. Stress can change how you act with your friends and family. It will take time for you to feel better and for your life to return to normal. Give yourself time to heal.

The CDC recommends the following steps to help you feel better. A traumatic event disrupts your life. There is no simple fix to make things better right away. But there are actions that can help you, your family, and your community heal. Try to:

  • Follow a normal routine as much as possible.
  • Eat healthy meals. Be careful not to skip meals or to overeat.
  • Exercise and stay active.
  • Help other people in your community as a volunteer. Stay busy.
  • Accept help from family, friends, co-workers, or clergy. Talk about your feelings with them.
  • Limit your time around the sights and sounds of what happened. Don’t dwell on TV, radio, or newspaper reports on the tragedy.

I would also encourage us as a nation to openly discuss this tragedy and ask ourselves the question why and what can we do about this.


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