Coping with Disaster
After a disaster it is natural to experience different and strong emotions. Connect with family, friends and others who were affected in our community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and our community recover from this disaster.
Acknowledge your feelings.
Whether you have lost your home, or have been deeply affected by watching images of these terrible events, you will have an emotional response. Research has shown that acknowledging and talking about your feelings immediately following a traumatic event can reduce the likelihood of later development of trauma-related disorders.
Take some time to process the events.
Processing a traumatic event can include talking with friends, writing in a diary, or talking with a mental health professional. Support groups are often available in areas affected by major disasters. The use of social media provides useful ways to connect with friends and family and share your experiences if you do not have access to in-person support.
Find productive ways to deal with feelings of guilt or sorrow.
It’s not uncommon for those relatively unaffected by disasters to experience guilt and sorrow. These feelings should be acknowledged as well. If you are in the area affected by Harvey, there are many local shelters and organizations that could use assistance. If you are outside the area and would like to help, consider a donation to the Red Cross or other reputable charitable organizations assisting in the recovery.
Allow yourself to enjoy the routine activities of day to day life.
Large scale tragedies often provide ironic moments of calm in our normally hassled daily lives. Turn off the radio and TV and take some time to sit with family, friends, and neighbors and enjoy a simple meal or play a board game. These moments can also aid in processing the events and allow us to reconnect with others.
Do not hesitate to ask for help.
As the weeks and months pass some may discover they are more agitated than usual, having difficulty sleeping, experiencing unexpected panic, or just feeling down and depressed. These could be symptoms of post-traumatic stress and you should not hesitate to visit your doctor or a mental health professional for help. We all process trauma differently and there is no shame in seeking help, no matter what you experienced during this or other traumatic events.
So now as the wind and the waves have calmed down, let us take hold of God’s promise that He will “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).