Coping in Tragic Times
By Annette E. Barton, ACSW, BCD

September 11, 2001 is a day that will go down in history as a turning point for America. The world watched as events unfolded after the terrorist attacks that day. America's sense of security and safety shattered. Relatives, friends, acquaintances and compassionate sympathetic people were stunned, shaken, angry, and saddened. We will feel the effects of this for some time to come.

We are asking many questions right now. Why did this happen? What does it mean for us now? How will our lives change? Will we have another World War? Are we safe? Will this affect our privacy? Will we be able to travel in safety again? How many are dead or will die from this? Will we ever be the same again? These are just a few of the questions I have heard people asking.

It is hard to determine what kinds of long-term effects this will have. One thing is certain, though. There will be long-term effects both nationally/internationally and personally. I will not attempt to answer the national and international questions and will leave that for the political and social analysts. Instead I will focus on the personal effects.

We have all been touched by this tragedy whether we were personally there, had family and friends there, or just watched in shock and horror as the events unfolded. It is natural to have a variety of feelings. Each person will respond in their own unique way.  There are some common responses, though.  You could experience shock, numbness, tearfulness, anger, grief, sadness, fearfulness, panic, frustration, insecurity, sleep and appetite disturbances, and helplessness. Those who have been involved in military wars, conflicts, or trauma could experience increased memories and flashbacks of those times.


Below are a variety of suggestions for how to cope with this tragic situation. These are just a few potential tools that a person can use. Some of these suggestions may be appropriate for you, some may not. The most important thing about coping strategies is to have a variety and be willing to try different things until you find some that work for you.

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2005-2007, Annette Barton, ACSW, BCD

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The information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or in any other way substitute for the assistance of a professional.

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