How Can We Cope With The Tragedy?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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September 11, 2001 became one of the most horrifying days in American history. We have experienced great terror and tragedy. Many innocent people lost their lives in the dreadful act of terror. As a result, many families are ruined and children are left without a parent. The losses are devastating for all of us and for the world. This shocking event affected every individual despite of race and religion, and had not leave anyone indifferent. Everyone has lost something, if it is not loved one then it is the sense of safety and security. In our effort to find possible reasons for that deed, the common sense tells us that there are none, not for such unspeakable act. For most of us the terror attack on the World Trade Center and on Pentagon seemed unreal; as if it was a horror film or shocking dream. How can we explain it to children if we ourselves, grown adults, are so confused and overwhelmed with the events? How can we feel safe in this World when life is so unpredictable, and could be taken so unexpectedly? When terrorist acts take place, people usually look for ways to cope with the severe stress and trauma.

Terrorism brings to mind a fundamental fear of helplessness. The violent actions are random, unprovoked, intentional, and often are targeted at unarmed citizens. Trying to cope with the irrational information that is beyond normal comprehension can set off a chain of psychological events concluding in feelings of fear, vulnerability, and grief.

Xenophobia -- fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners -- can be heightened under a terrorist threat and can become a social and psychological danger. The fear generated by terrorism can be aggravated by a population's diversity if there is distrust between groups and categories of citizens. People need to recognize that diversity in a population is often an opportunity for unity and strength. There are members of our diverse society who have experienced past terrorist incidents. The knowledge and experience they have gained from surviving and coping with these incidents can make them a valuable resource on how to cope and how to offer assistance to others.

After a terrorist attack, many people are impacted. Many people are affected: survivors of past traumatic events, people who personally witnessed or were victims of the terrorist attack and also People who experience traumatization from learning of relatives, friends and acquaintances who became victims of the violence.

People who have experienced or witnessed a terrorist attack may go into a state of acute stress reaction. One may feel a number of the following symptoms: recurring thoughts of the incident, becoming afraid of everything, not leaving the house, or isolating yourself, stopping usual functioning, no longer maintaining daily routines, e.t.c.

Every one of us can help our relatives, neighbors, and members of our communities to cope with the trauma. Talk with your loved ones and keep in mind that the first, and most important step is to identify the feelings that one may be experiencing. Understand that the feelings are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. To talk with other people, and ask for help if needed, which is completely normal. Even though it is difficult, but to try to make efforts to maintain your usual routine. Think positively. Realize that things will get better. Be realistic about the time it takes to feel better.

If it does not help, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. There are many ways to feel traumatized by terrorist incidents. Psychologists are trained to help people cope and take positive steps toward managing their feelings and behaviors.

Children are very sensitive to such tragedies and it is difficult for them to understand the reasons that lay behind such acts of terror. As adults we should encourage children to say how they are feeling about the event; ask them what they have seen, heard or experienced; assure children that we, their parents, older brothers and sisters are taking care of them and will continue to help them deal with anything that makes them feel afraid.

If everybody helps their loved ones, relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to deal with the emotional stress that everybody experiences, it will expedite healing process for every one of us.

Although this unfortunate event has occurred, we should not forget that even though many lost their lives, we are still alive. We were not killed, only set back, and we have to remember those who died in this tragic incident, we have to avenge their deaths, and we have to go on with our daily life, we have to continue with our chores and our responsibilities, and continue to make America the best country on earth.