Dealing with Grief in a World of Terror
Yesterday Nice, France was hit with another attack while celebrating Bastille Day. A truck drove through crowds of people after a fireworks show driving over dozens of people. The current death toll is 84 people with 202 injured. The driver of the truck was 31-year-old Mohamad Lahouaiej Bouhel, a French-Tunisian resident of Nice. He was neutralized by police after driving over a mile on the promenade and shooting from the cab of the truck. It is still undetermined that this attack was affiliated with a terrorist group.
For the third time in a year and a half, France will be flying its flags at half-staff to mourn the victims of another tragedy. Previously, Paris was attacked by gunmen and suicide bombers in November. The attacks took place in a concert hall, stadium, and restaurants and bars, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more, making it the worst attack in France’s history. In January 2015, two gunmen made an attack in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and then sending authorities on a chase while wreaking havoc throughout the area. Two days later, there was an attack on a local supermarket.
Terrorism is becoming customary to French residents. The government extended the current state of emergency that would have expired later this month.
“The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism,” said Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
This is the unfortunate reality we have to live with in today’s world. Not only are attacks happening in France, but they are occurring all over the world. The worst mass shooting in American history took place at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people. Brussels Airport was bombed in March, killing 32 people. An Istanbul airport terror attack killed 36. And the list goes on.
So how do we cope with these terrorist acts of violence? People are suddenly losing someone they are close to, sometimes more than one. Not only are they losing them, many times they are seeing them die right in front of them. There are also moments of grief even for those who did not lose someone close to them; rather they are grieving the loss of many innocent people in random acts of violence. Hearing that bodies in the streets are covered with sheets until they can be identified is traumatic.
Common reactions to terrorism are shock, guilt, worry, insomnia, and social withdrawal. While there are many negative reactions, there are also some positive reactions to come from tragedy. These include resilience, altruism, changes in views of the future, and relief of surviving.
Here are some things you can do today to help process and grieve recent events that may have pained you:
Reach out for help and talk about the experience, no matter who you are. Whether you are a victim or someone looking from afar, this will help process your emotions. With media today, we hear grueling details about events such as what happened last night in Nice. So to seek help is not a bad thing, especially if it has deeply affected you.
Take a break from the news. Your social media feeds and television are flooded with images after a recent disaster and taking a break from it all will help you refocus. Go for a walk or see a movie.
Get out in your community. Usually we see a lot of communities come together for each other in times of need. For example, France stood with America after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. We saw an outpouring of support through pictures and kind words. This helps everyone work through it together.
Do something for the greater good. Volunteer or donate blood, you will feel like you are a part of the solution.
These are only a few of the many ways to help you grieve during difficult times caused by a tragedy. If you are looking for more support, please reach out to a loved one or professional. It is important to know that there are caring people in this world.