Thursday, February 28, 2013

Surviving and Thriving after Traumatic Events

It has been called the disaster without an anniversary date -- the tornado that hit Harrisburg, Illinois on February 29, 2012. Tomorrow, it's one year later, but is it? Traumatic reactions always occur sporadically after a devastating event like this disaster, but the question of not being able to fully recognize the event because of something like leap year provides a way for us to look at the idea of trauma and the way events like this can affect our children.
I believe the hardest thing in dealing with trauma is not knowing when symptoms will be triggered and when they won't. Because it's hard to even identify it within ourselves, it's twice as hard to see it in our children. The unpredictable responses and not knowing what to do for a child usually leaves adults making the choice to just avoid talking about it. Totally understandable though -- cause we don't want to end up making things worse! We care, but we're scared to mess things up at the same time.
Harrisburg is my hometown and I live only 20 miles from there now. I have family and friends there still and the news of the tornado immediately brought anxiety, fear, and sorrow. The same was true for my children.
Thanks to my colleagues at Egyptian Health Department, I have access to resources that I can utilize and share with others. Dr. Matt Buckman, a psychologist I am thankful to know, immediately began collecting information to share with parents and providers that would help children deal with the after effects of the tornado. Dr. Buckman presented his info to three schools and some parent groups. The info included things like:
Normal Childhood Responses & Resiliency
How to Help All Children Cope
The Signs of Traumatic Stress
Managing Survivor Guilt
Compassion Fatigue
Personal Stress and Post Trauma Growth
If you are interested in the information from Dr. Buckman, please contact me at or Dr. Buckman at
Trauma reactions can come and go, just like an anniversary date -- or sometimes it may seem like it never existed at all. But, no matter what, we have a responsibility to help our children sort through and learn great coping skills. Not only that, but helping others is always personally beneficial to our own mental health too! Let's get to work :)

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