- Accept all of the feelings you are having as normal reactions to an extraordinary event. You are not "crazy." You are reacting normally to a crazy event. Be patient with yourself. It takes time to recover emotionally from a traumatic event.
- Accept the fact that you have been a victim and accept the feelings that result. Remember, others may not validate your feelings. In fact, they may minimize your experience by saying things like, "You were only a witness," or "You were really lucky," or "It’s been two weeks. Why are you still bothered?"
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, or overeating as a way to cope. These behaviors will only make matters worse.
- Maintain normalcy. Go about your daily routines and take care of business.
- Attempt to understand what happened by getting the facts.
- Talk about the event and write about it.
- Combat any guilt you might have by:
- Accepting your sense of guilt as normal.
- Talking to others about your role and their role during the event; you are probably not alone in your reaction to this event.
- Realize you were a victim yourself and not a trained rescuer.
- Recognize what you "did right."
- Recognize the extenuating circumstances related to the event, such as the suddenness or the danger.
- Help others in your family or group.
- Reach out to support those who are particularly traumatized. Take time to talk, and to reminisce.
- Respect each other’s way of coping. Don’t victimize them by judging their individual coping style. Let the "grievers" grieve and allow the "doers" to do.
- Bereavement groups provide an opportunity to share grief with others who have experienced a similar loss.
- If the healing process becomes too overwhelming, seek professional help.