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The tips these experts have for dealing with trauma amid mass shootings

Posted at 8:40 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 20:40:29-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Just days after three UVA students were tragically killed in a mass shooting on campus, another five lives were taken in a mass shooting at a nightclub in Colorado.

Now just a day before the Thanksgiving holiday, the nation is mourning the loss of six more people after a mass shooting at the Walmart in Chesapeake.

"I saw my son, he's an athlete, he smiles like these boys. And it reminded me of my child," a feeling Lakesha Broussard with Village Children Family Services said others may be dealing with. "We're grieving as a nation. Because before we can get over grieving for the young men, we're now having to grieve for what happened at the nightclub. And now we're having to grieve for these people who were in Walmart.”

Six people were killed and another four were injured in the shooting late Tuesday night and the sorrow that surrounds this tragedy and others like it can impact both people's mental and physical well-being.

"People are very, very much on overload at this point. Definitely scared. And all this is occurring on a holiday weekend at a time when we're getting together with our families," Broussard said.

She and other mental health experts emphasize how important it is to take care of yourself after a tragic event, as the heartbreak following, ripples well beyond the direct community.

"As we are approaching right on the edge of celebrating Thanksgiving, it's really difficult for a lot of people to process, we have to be intentional, in our approach to do some things that we can control," said Monica Lucas with Serenity Counseling Services.

She and Broussard said assessing and caring for your mental and physical health first is crucial, especially if hoping to help those around you.

"A lot of times we think that okay, if I turn off the tv tonight, by tomorrow morning when I wake up, I'm going to have this magical reset. And there really isn't, there isn't such thing as a magical reset," Broussard said.

She said to be honest with yourself about how the tragedy is impacting your mind and your body.

"With this type of trauma, you know, tight shoulders, a little bit of fatigue a little bit of, I just don't want to do anything. Those are physical signs that something's going on," she said. "You know, don't keep having that trauma, come on over and over and over again, turn off the tv and maybe turn to something else."

Both Lucas and Broussard urge those who are struggling to talk to someone, whether a professional or friend you trust.

"If you notice this is going on for a while and you're not really engaging in your normal activities. You feel helpless, hopeless, reach out to a professional or your family or your friends, take some time away," said Broussard.

As we continue to gather for the holiday season experts encourage those grieving to remember to be kind to ourselves, give grace to others and find happiness in whatever way we can.

"We definitely want to engage our family in a different way. You know, we want to express gratitude, and not just have a meal and come together. But we want to talk, and we want to share why these times are important," Lucas explained.

"I think take the shift off, go outside, play with your kids. Walk around, think about and be grateful for the things that you have," encouraged Broussard.

You can find local mental health resources as well as resources for those located in Chesapeake here. If in need of immediate help, you can also dial the suicide and crisis hotline at 9-8-8.

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