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How to Help Welcome

It is important to realize as a helper that everyone reacts differently to tragic events. An individual’s reaction will be affected by a number of factors including the survivor’s personal life; the survivor’s physical and mental health; the suddenness of the tragic event; and the timing of the tragic event.

However, there are reactions to tragic events which are common and which you are likely to see when helping a survivor. These reactions include...

  • Reactions to Traumatic EventsShock and disbelief
  • Guilt
  • Anger/blaming
  • Numbness
  • Denial of the enormity of the event
  • Confusion
  • Paralysis
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Helplessness
  • Fear
  • Urgent need for information

Implications for Helpers

If you hear the survivor saying something like "what is the matter with me?", you can say "what you are experiencing is very normal under these circumstances".

If you hear one survivor judging how another survivor is reacting, you can say "everyone grieves differently".

Common Reactions to Trauma