Posts Tagged Newtown CT

Bad Dreams, Bad News, Bad People

I have written and erased, re-written and erased this post several times. I even made a video to go with it.  I decided to “go there” and then think against it. But this time I am going to keep writing in hopes that whoever might need to hear what I have to say will find it.  You see, I like to write about things that inspire….I like to stay out of politics and the ugly side of life.  But the fact is, something in me says I need to talk about this. So I am going to listen to that voice.

Just about anywhere you go this week, you will have had a conversation or heard the news about the massacre at Newtown, CT.  (This is where I get so stuck…..I bet you thought you might be able to come here to get away from that…a sanctuary, a place of reprise.)  Well, everywhere I go people are talking about it and I have started noticing that there is a trend in which people are starting to feel the trauma of the event in a very personal way.

Schools are going on lock down all over the country. Folks are extra vigilant; they are watching everything they can about the tragedy in hopes of making sense of this senseless act. And as a result, people are feeling traumatized.

This is what mental health professionals identify as secondary trauma.  A traumatic event happens to someone else and those around them, those that witness it, hear the story or who are somehow affected by the story begin to also experience the stress of the trauma.  As a helping professional in a family violence shelter for over 2 years, I saw who difficult secondary trauma could be.  It is hard to understand because we think, “This didn’t happen to me. Why should I feel the effects of it?”  But we do.

We might experience Secondary Trauma in these ways:

  • We lose sleep.
  • Our mind races with thoughts of the event or varying scenarios that play the trauma over in different ways.
  • We might have bad dreams.
  • We might find our actual reality mirroring some part of the event (like having our own child’s school put on lock down).
  • We might feel compelled to watch as much about the event as we can.
  • We might need to watch the news to assure ourselves that our security is intact.
  • Our body may be filled with anxiety and stress.
  • We may feel fearful, worried, unsafe, sad, and/or in shock.
  • The event may bring up our own unhealed traumas from the past.

What can help?

Here are a few things that might help bring you back to a feeling of peace and calm.

  • Make a space in your life to honor the loss. Light a candle, say a prayer, attend a vigil, write a poem, make a donation.
  • Set aside a time for connecting with a calm state of being.  (One way to do this might be to spend 15 minutes before bed listing 5 gratitudes and then focusing on your breathing.  You may find your mind wandering onto the event or a stressor, but just gently bring yourself back to the breath.)
  • Go on a media fast (no news) or limit your news intake.  This can be especially helpful in the evening to help keep your mind as calm and peaceful as possible before bed.
  • Try to balance judging your safety (and that of your children) with maintaining your peaceful state of being.
  • Connect with your love ones.
  • If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the tragedy and unable to comfort yourself, you may consider seeking the assistance of a helping professional, a counselor, clergy, or your doctor.
  • Know that you are not alone.

I would also like to share a resource for talking to your kiddos about death and violence.  Martha Atkins is a friend of mine and one of my secret mentors (wink).  She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to grief, death and dying, and blending kids in with those subjects. She knows about life too, and how to live a good one!

Find her posts here:

Talking About Death to Kids 

Decoding Death Messages from Kids – Part One

More to come….check out the Martha Adkins blog.

You are a Resource!

Help grow the list of ways others might connect with peace during times of high stress like the one we are experiencing as a result of the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  Share with us YOUR ideas for what works, what is working, or what you are considering.




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