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The effects of trauma following tragedy

Mourners leave after the funeral of Alaina Petty

Mourners leave after the funeral of Alaina Petty at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 19, 2018 in Coral Springs, Florida. Credit: Getty Images North America / Joe Raedle

Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, parents there must help their children navigate the trauma.

Trauma affects different age groups in different ways, and children need extra time and support to recover. According to the American Red Cross, feeling worried, distracted, and argumentative are common emotional responses to a disaster or a stressful life event. Feeling sad during a typically joyful time, like the holidays, is common as well.

A traumatic experience can also cause physical reactions, including loss of appetite, exhaustion and inability to stay on task.

When children are impacted by tragedy, their view of the world as a “safe and predictable place” is temporarily gone, says the Red Cross on their website. But the way a child’s parent or guardian reacts to the tragedy can help them navigate the healing process, the Red Cross says.

Recovery from trauma takes time, and ways to cope along the way include limiting exposure to media coverage of the event, resting, eating healthily and establishing a safe space just for yourself. Seeking medical attention may be necessary, as well. Around the holidays, staying true to traditions and incorporating new activities can be helpful and engaging, according to the Red Cross.

To reach out to the American Red Cross for counseling or support, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

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