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How to Cope with Public Tragedies

In September of 2016, the Oceanside, NY Library presented a forumHow to Cope with Public Tragedies.

A panel of experts came together to discuss how to identify what you and your children are feeling, and moreover, ways to help cope. (This was in response to the onslaught of horror, grief and fear filling our TV’s at the time - referring to Columbine, Boston, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Paris, London, and Orlando)


Pain has no boundaries. 


These are my notes and takeaways:

  • Minimize exposure to negative. (Turn off the news/TV/media/Facebook/Sensationalism/etc.)
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Self-Care = exercise, eat right, proper sleep/rest. 
  • Follow routines/rituals -> normalcy.
  • Keep to schedule. Keep routine.
  • Create your own bubble.
  • Strive for a sense of security.
  • Recognize that anxiety is a normal reaction to abnormal situations.
  • Acknowledge the truth.
  • When you don’t acknowledge -> ______ left to deal with it on his/her own.
  • Ask, “What can we do to make it better?”
  • Volunteer. Be proactive. What CAN you do?
  • Resiliency can be rebuilt.
  • More often we are safe enough - it’s a new normal.

 I’d like to share another takeaway - one I found concerning and fascinating. 

“Traumatic stress rearranges the brain’s wiring.”


Concerning: because emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during trauma are experienced not as memories but as disruptive physical reactions in the present.

Fascinating: because this made clear why/how the body/mind/immune system is SO connected. (Something I encounter often in my massage practice… and something I have become obsessed with learning about. Much of my studies now revolve around Psychoneuroimmunology. aka the mind/body/immune system connection.)


I asked enough questions that night to prompt a recommended read. “The Body Keeps the Score," by Bessel van der Kolk. I second this recommendation! This book has so much information to digest. Not a quick read by any means… but well worth the time. The author sorts through options and alternatives as a way to reclaim lives from trauma.