Tragedy hits everyone in one form or another during their life. Whether it be the death of a loved one, a pet, or a disaster of some sort, a tragedy is usually a point in life in which everything takes an unexpected turn for the worse. It is important at this point not to let it spiral. Feelings of sadness and grief are natural during tragic times, and the human emotional reaction is not something to be ashamed of. What is important is to deal with tragedy in a healthy way, and to move on when the time is right.
There are several common reactions to tragedy, and most people will experience these to a varying degree, in a unique way that reflects how they tend to handle such situations. Some of these symptoms include shock, sadness and suffering, anger and resentment, and anxiety. These are normal reactions to loss and are nothing to worry about; they should fade over time.
Time is the great healer.
Soon after a tragedy the reactions and general mindstate of the people affected is likely to be negative, and emotions will be running high. Over time however the mind recollects itself, and symptoms of grief start to lessen. Do not feel guilty as the pain starts to recede. It is normal for time to heal grief, loss and sadness, and after a certain amount of time, which again will be different for everyone, pain will give way to relief and moving on will be easier. With any emotionally exhausting experience more time may be needed to relax, and less time should be spent engaging with potentially stressful experiences.
Take some time off.
If your feelings around the tragedy are affecting your emotions, physical health, and level of energy, then take an appropriate amount of time off to recover. It is more than legitimate to allow yourself this time. Don’t try to take on too much straight away and don’t rush back into life before first giving yourself some time to really let it sink in, and to deal with your emotions. To deal with these feelings effectively some time off might be required, and this does not exclusively refer to work. Have some time to yourself, some time with loved ones, and some time to rest and relax without any more stress.
Talk about your feelings.
Although time alone might be enough for some tragedy, and for some people, the result of talking to people about feelings cannot be underestimated. Keeping it all bottled up inside is not a healthy way of dealing with emotions and it feels much more rewarding to open up to someone about it. Do not be ashamed to cry on the shoulder of loved ones, or to talk about how the tragedy has affected you and your life. Friends, family, and counseling services can all play this role, and even writing about it can relieve anxiety. Anything to get the spiraling thoughts out of the mind, to move out of the loop.
Take care of yourself.
During times of grief and hardship it is very important to look after your own basic needs. Nothing makes a tragedy worse than wallowing in it, and the road to recovery will be extremely long for those who choose to lie in bed, not eating or getting any exercise. Make sure the tragedy, and the feelings that come with it, are not intensified by a degrading care for yourself. Eat well, get up in the daytime to see some light and get some air, exercise, have social contact. The road to recovery will be much, much faster if you surround yourself with a positive and healthy life in the process.
Stay off drugs and alcohol.
For some people drugs and alcohol can seem like an easy option to resort to. They may ease the pain, but only ever very temporarily, and it will return in the morning with a vengeance. This can start a very destructive behavioral pattern that can effect people even more than the tragedy itself. Keep a grip of yourself and face your emotions. As painful as it might be it is important to see the human aspect of the emotion. Do not try to hide it, or escape from it.
Don’t be guilty.
You often hear people who blame themselves; sometimes for the tragedy itself, and sometimes for something that they did not get chance to say or do. Loved ones that have passed away would not blame you for anything, so don’t blame yourself. Also, don’t feel guilty when you begin to recover. Moving in from tragedy is the aim, so allow for the grief, the pain, and the emotion, but then allow also for yourself to move on and resume a happy life.
When you are ready…
After you have given yourself the time, and talked openly about your feelings, and when you start to feel more and more like reality is clicking back into place, it is time to get back into the world and resume life. This can be scary, but have no fear. It is the last little step in dealing with tragedy. Start slowly and move back into social circles, go back to work, take up some hobbies. Start feeling like you again.