Traumatic incidents are stressful situations which happen out of the ordinary and threaten a person’s well being. Some examples are: accidents, robberies, assaults, deaths, suicides and other sudden human disasters. Those affected usually go through three stages and respond in the following ways:
The initial response to a traumatic incident is shock. The affected person:
· May not be aware of the extent of their injuries
· May be apathetic or disoriented
· Often appears stunned or dazed or, in severe cases, has a blank stare
· May not be able to make more than minimal efforts to help themselves or others
· Minutes, or an hour or two later, the affected person is:
· Suggestible and willing to take minimal directions from rescue workers or others
· Usually extremely concerned about the welfare of others involved in the incident
· Still not able to perform at a normal or safe level
For days after, the affected person may:
· Be apprehensive, hypersensitive, generally anxious, irritable or agitated
· Demonstrate the need to talk about the critical incident over and over again
· Have recurrent and intrusive memories of feelings about the incident
· Have sleep and appetite disruption
· Avoid situations, locations, feelings or thoughts associated with the event
Ways to Cope
· Give yourself time to adjust. Anticipate that this will be a difficult time in your life. Be patient and allow for time to mourn the losses you have experienced.
· Engage in healthy behaviors. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. Establish or reestablish routines such as eating meals or exercising at regular times.
· Avoid alcohol and drugs. Resist the urge to self-medicate emotional discomfort.
· Practice relaxation techniques. Stretching, take a warm bath, prayer and meditation.
· Communicate your experience. Telling and retelling the story of the incident to caring friends or family can be helpful in working through difficult feelings.
· Seek professional support. If symptoms last for more than 10 days or if there are thoughts of hurting self or others contact REACH for professional support.
REACH can provide confidential counseling assistance and referral for trauma related concerns.
Talking To Our Children About A Traumatic Event
Providing answers to our children when tragedy strikes involves a balance between helping the child feel safe and acknowledging the existence of violence, evil and danger in our world.
The following steps can be helpful when talking to children:
· Make Sure Your Emotions are Under Control: Prepare yourself to focus on the child not your own emotions over the situation.
· Consider Limiting Their Access to Media: Monitor TV footage of victims of the tragedy or repetition of the traumatic event.
· Encourage Your Child to Express Feelings: Listen and don’t jump to “make it better.”
· Be Ready to Provide Some Possible “Why’s”: We don’t know “why”, but we can educate our children about political and religious fanaticism and the inappropriate use of violence to “send a message.”
· Be Honest: There are “evil” people in the world who do “very bad” things, but also tell your child that most people are not evil and would not do such a thing.
· Reassure Your Child: On the whole he or she lives in a safe place.
· Don’t Provide False Assurance: Instead of saying “Nothing like this will ever happen to you,” let your child know “I am here to protect you and keep you safe.”
· Be a Role Model: Be aware that your own reactions will have a big impact on your child and how they react.
· Monitor Your Childs Behavior: If there is a prolonged pattern of unusual or abnormal behavior, seek profession advice.
REACH your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is here to help you and your child deal with a traumatic event.