SANTA BARBARA — Hospice of Santa Barbara is deeply saddened by the nightclub shooting in Orlando and extends it heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families and members of the LGBT community impacted by this senseless tragedy.
“It’s important for our community to know that this is a national tragedy and just because these events happened in Orlando does not mean that we, here in the greater Santa Barbara area, aren’t experiencing strong emotions related to it. On the contrary, most of us are experiencing some level of fear, anxiety, grief and depression,” said Gabriela Dodson, HSB Director of Clinical Services.
Other emotions could include feelings of shock, numbness, anger and fatigue, in addition to physical sensations and thoughts of confusion or disbelief. Normal reactions in the aftermath of violent events can also involve profound sadness, worry, and heightened vigilance.
“This horrible tragedy will affect different people in many ways, and it’s important to care for yourself and look out for your own needs during this time of distress,” said Dodson. “And remember you’re not alone. You can reach out to your friends and family, and Hospice of Santa Barbara counselors are also available to meet your needs.”
Below are additional ways to take care of ourselves:
- Talk about it. Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. Receiving support and care can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you do not feel so different or alone.
- Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective on yourself and the world around you.
- Turn it off and take a break. You may want to keep informed, but try to limit the amount of news you take in whether it’s from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can actually increase your stress. The images can be very powerful in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also, schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident and focus instead on something you enjoy. Try to do something that will lift your spirits.
- Honor your feelings. Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may have headaches, feel exhausted, sore or dizzy/off balance.
- Take care of yourself. Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical pain. Establish or re-establish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
- Help others or do something productive. Locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people others. Helping someone has a physiological/chemical benefit which will make you feel better, too.
Santa Barbara County has experienced several community tragedies, and the Orlando shooting and news coverage can be triggering events for our own personal losses/deaths. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. For some, this might involve staying at home; for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma of violent events take time. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including “survivor guilt” — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.
Speaking to children about the tragedies:
- Parents should ask their children what they already know or have heard about the shooting. Correct any misinformation and plainly explain what happened — the level of detail will depend on the child’s age.
- It’s important to let children express their feelings and talk about how they are affected by the news. Reassure children that they will be cared for, and their parents/family are there to comfort and support them.
*Content courtesy of Hospice of Santa Barbara and the American Psychological Association
Hospice of Santa Barbara (HSB) offers compassionate, professional counseling, support groups and care management free of charge for those experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one. HSB provides a wide range of bereavement services, wherever and whenever they’re needed, to patients, children, families and Spanish speakers. For more information about HSB’s programs and community education efforts, call (805) 563-8820 or visit hospiceofsantabarbara.org