Dealing with a Major Incident
Strategies and suggestions that may help
Take care of yourself - If you have been through a traumatic experience it is important to take extra care of your physical health, for example by eating regular meals, taking regular exercise that is likely to help you sleep better. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is just as important. Be kind to yourself by recognising that your feelings are a common reaction to loss. Feeling glad to have survived a traumatic ordeal is a normal response and you can still feel genuine grief for those who were lost.
Take time so you can gradually learn what helps you cope with your feelings - Sometimes it is easier to feel the guilt, as horrible as it is, than the terrible loss and desolation that grief can bring. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, recovering from these experiences is a journey that always takes time. Allowing yourself to mourn the loss of those who perished can be a big step in starting to accept what has happened. For those who are openly able to express their feelings this can bring a sense of release. Some may prefer to grieve more privately, writing down their thoughts, listening to music that reflects their mood can equally be of benefit. Coming together with others by attending a religious or community ceremony or creating your own remembrance activity can also help.
Remind yourself that in life luck is just a concept - It isn't about there only being "so much luck to go around". Sometimes, as a way of trying to cope with overwhelming experiences we look for explanations about why things happen to us and not others. The notion of luck is an example, the lottery is an illustration of arbitrary luck; sometimes no-one wins and sometimes lots of people share the same numbers. Our chances of winning are not influenced by what numbers someone else chooses. Of more significance, the survival of one person rather than another sadly is also arbitrary. This means there is a choice as to how you think about having survived. For example, ‘Why me, why did I survive’, or ‘Why NOT me’.
Make guilt a motivator to do something positive - Guilt can bring about as purposeful action if you choose to see it that way. If we put the energy into doing something else then it leaves less energy to invest in feeling guilty and this can help us move on. If we choose to take action that helps us feel more empowered, perhaps by being involved in a commemorative ceremony honoring those who were lost. It could be about raising awareness of suicide in young people or holding a fund raising event for those lost. Instead of focusing on what we regret, we can spend time enjoying what we have now, perhaps spending more time with family, and or friends and making sure that they know how much they mean to us.
Ask yourself were you in a position to control the outcome of the event -It is highly unlikely that any actions you may have considered would have influenced what happened. Any actions heroic or otherwise from survivors happens after the event has occurred. Despite this it is not uncommon for some survivors to feel overly responsible for things that they couldn’t possibly control no matter how prepared they were. Think of these responses as a coping strategy that can help you guard against feelings of helplessness and powerlessness that may otherwise immediately feel overwhelming.
How do your loved ones view your survival? - Sometimes when we are asking “Why me” we can forget to think about how those around us feel. We can choose to think about how they feel about your having survived the disaster ordeal, and how relieved they most likely are. Sometimes there is sense of euphoria a feeling of being given the “gift of life”. If at first you feel you don’t deserve a "second chance" at life, your loved ones probably think you do and this can help you recognise there is a purpose to your life.
Seek out other people for support. - Share your feelings with family, friends and peers so they can support you. You may want to join a support group for others affected by what has happened.