Natural Disasters: How Grief Can Help Us to Help Others?
By Jessica Fender
Natural disasters, such as tsunamis or tornadoes, are catastrophic events where people lose their properties, livelihoods, and in many cases their lives. If you happen to experience a severe natural disaster, you will remember it for the rest of your life. Natural disasters produce high levels of stress and anxiety and often lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Grief does not only affect the survivors of these public tragedies, but it affects the people that are in tune with the news. Continue reading if you want to learn how you can cope with your grief during a public tragedy.
7 Τips To Survive Natural Disasters as a Victim
First of all, natural disasters are likely to happen more and more often due to climate change. Below, you’ll find seven tips for your mental and physical health that are good to keep in mind if you ever happen to be a victim of a natural disaster.
- Connect with social support immediately. Early intervention with resources can significantly minimize the effect of the natural disaster with resources, although many times this tragedy may affect communities as a whole.
- Find a local support group, talk to a crisis counselor. Local crisis counselors are there in most cases to support you in these difficult times. It’s easy to let grief swallow you, but try to keep in mind that you are alive, and you can find the strength to move past this.
- Make a daily schedule that you’ll follow. It’s easy to forget to eat when everything around you is in chaos. Putting a daily schedule in place with standard meal times will help you tremendously in having the necessary energy to deal with whatever challenges you may have after the tragedy.
- Share your feelings. Express your feelings. Bottling up all this anxiety and stress may lead to lifelong intense disorders.
- Put self-care as a high priority. Care for your body and your mind. Tiny rituals that make you feel good will ease the pain and the grief. Take it easy and don’t exhaust yourself physically and mentally.
- Find a healthy coping strategy. The number of negative emotions you may experience during a natural disaster may lead to unhealthy habits that include the use of drugs and alcohol, etc. It’s important to find healthy coping mechanisms.
- Help others. When experiencing a public tragedy, you can find relief by helping others. A sense of community and purpose will definitely help you feel better.
The Grief That Drives Us Away
For the rest of us that are watching the news, the feeling of doom and grief is inescapable. It’s impossible to see the catastrophic images after a tornado and to not be affected. Sometimes this grief makes us want to distance ourselves in order to protect our mentality and to not feel all these negative emotions. This is a logical reaction that may occur to an individual when they have to deal with a public tragedy.
The Grief Cultivates Sympathy and Compassion
But there is another reaction that strengthens the bonds of the community. Instead of succumbing to the individual’s instinct to distance themselves, many find relief through contributing and helping those that are in need due to the natural disaster. This grief is cultivating sympathy and compassion and helps us move forward as a society. Below you will find some of the many ways you can contribute.
How You Can Contribute
- Donate. The first thing you can do is donate to an accredited relief foundation. People are more likely to be in need of financial support since after a natural disaster many homes and livelihoods have been destroyed.
- Organize a fundraiser. You can help those in need of financial assistance not only by contributing yourself but also by urging others to do the same. Financial relief will help tremendously the victims the day after!
- Become a volunteer. Especially if you are trained in a related crisis management field(rescuer or a doctor) it will be of great help to go to the area and offer your services. But even if you are not trained, people need help for the aftermath that you don’t need to have any special skills to do. For example, cooking food, helping people clean their homes are actions you can take without having been trained to do so.
- Goods and Supplies. Even if you don’t want to give money or volunteer, you can go to your local market and gather some first aid supplies the victims of natural disasters are in need of. Many organizations provide lists with the items, so you can check out what you need to buy before you go to the store and also get information about the collection points.
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There are many ways in which you can help those that fell victims to natural disasters. Don’t succumb to the grief that turns you away, give a helping hand in any way that you can to the point that you can, and you’ll find within yourself a sense of purpose and community.
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