It is devastating.
Those are the words one of our congregants used to describe the feeling our community has in the tragedy of four young men, friends, who drowned on January 3. It’s reminiscent of the movie “Ordinary People.” But this heartbreak is not a movie. It’s real. And it’s not ordinary. In the darkness of this tragedy, no less than any others we have experienced and/or witnessed, we become acquainted with unmeasured shock and grief.
To be of support to each other and our community following such a heartbreak, be aware of:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Stomachaches or headaches
- Anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others
- Overwhelming sadness
- Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why
- Feeling like you have to keep busy
- Lack of energy or always feeling tired
- Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual; using prescribed painkillers or illegal drugs
- Eating too much or too little
- Not connecting with others
- Feeling like you won’t ever be happy again
Hence, some general tips for coping with stress are provided by the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746:
- Take care of yourself
- Eat healthy, avoid using alcohol and other drugs, and get some exercise when you can, even a walk around the block can make a difference
- Reach out to friends and family and your congregation
- Talk with someone you trust about how you are doing
- Talk to your children
- They may feel scared, angry, sad, worried and confused. Let them know it’s okay to talk about what’s on their mind
- Limit their watching TV news reports about the tragedy
- Help children and adolescents maintain normal routines
- Role model healthy coping
- Get enough ‘good’ sleep
- Only go to bed when you are ready to sleep
- Don’t watch TV or use your cell phone or laptop computer while you’re in bed
- Avoid eating (especially sugar) or drinking caffeine or alcohol at least one hour before going to bed
- If you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep, try writing in a journal or on a sheet of paper what’s on your mind
- Know when to ask for help
It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on with you or with someone you care about, because what may seem like ‘everyday stress’ can actually be:
- Depression, including thoughts of suicide
- Alcohol or other drug abuse (Not alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol is a drug.)
For more information, go to http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
• NIDA for Teens, provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This site is not just for teens, but parents and families to read and discuss. You can find it at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
• As we host regular meetings for the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), we added its Illinois website which provides helpful information to individuals and families. You can find it at www.namiillinois.org/
• Another helpful site on mental health for individuals and families is Mental Health America. You can find it as www.mentalhealthamerica.net/
• Finally, excellent individual and family resource for mental health, particularly for depression and bipolar related disorders is the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. You can find it at www.dbsalliance.org
Exploring Grief Group Winter Session at WCC
Winnetka Congregational Church
Every other Monday
from 7 – 8:30 P.M.
January 9th – March 20th
We are pleased to offer our unique Exploring Grief Group starting on January 9th. This series provides a confidential, supportive and educational environment to cope with grief. Four area congregations have come together to underwrite this important service for our community, enabling us to offer it at no charge.
Meetings are led by Joellen Hosler, MDiv, LCPC, who has extensive experience with grief and loss through her work with clients and as a Pastor, Joellen designs a special presentation for each meeting tailored to the needs of the registered group.
For more information or to register for any of the 6-session groups, please contact Joellen at 847-446-6955 ext. 19 or firstname.lastname@example.org.