Different people react differently to traumatic events: they may feel numb, disorientated, angry and can even self-harm. Talking, understanding and human connections can help people reassert control.
Victims and families need space to grieve and readjust. A safe, neutral space where they are able to come together can be beneficial. People will usually be seeking answers to their predicament, trying to make sense of suffering. There may be a feeling of guilt – why have I survived? – or shame – what did I do wrong to warrant this? – which cannot be explained away logically. This may require spiritual as well as emotional guidance. Faith groups can be supportive, especially for community services.
Long road to recovery
Everyone has their own way of dealing with crises and trauma. What is more, the effects of trauma can last for a long time. Symptoms may not manifest themselves for years after the event. Recovery can be painfully slow and professional help is often required.
Communities are a key feature of helping to deal with trauma. There is frequently a need to commemorate events by coming together and sharing experiences. Parades have been features of community gatherings to commemorate major incidents e.g. Remembrance services.
Organisations should understand the time it takes to recover and be prepared to support for the long term. This also applies to staff dealing with a long-running incident: the need to pace a team for several days or weeks, with potential lack of sleep, requires its own solutions e.g. full rosters, sleep clinics.
It is important to develop people’s learning power through self-awareness, identification of vulnerabilities, and realisation of limitations. This is sometimes described as self-leadership.
Post-incident debriefings can be helpful. Awareness of what went wrong should precede what went right. It is important to appoint a person with responsibility for implementing change and that progress is openly recorded, pursued and signed off.
Techniques used to prepare people can also be utilised post-incident. This may include introducing drama through theatre and role play.
Watch the video
Resilience First have produced a video that contains a powerful illustration of the above, through three sets of pairings – emotional and spiritual, individual and community, immediate and long term. You can find it on our YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdaDovC7X0I