Ways to cope with media coverage of tragedies
After my mother passed away from dementia last September I immediately felt relief as I left her bedside and walked out of the facility she had died in, but what I didn't expect to feel was the overwhelming grief I have had to carry with me every day since then. I walked back to a "normal" life as a mother, a wife, a sibling, a friend and an employee, but all I could hear were noises. I would go to meetings, drive my children from gymnastics and choir, talk to my friends and hug my husband, but no one made sense to me. I stopped caring about the things I once loved, like late night conversations with close friends, running, going to movies or playing with my young children.
My world was in slow motion. All I wanted to do was sleep and the tiniest inconvenience would stop me in my tracks with fear or helplessness. I would cry suddenly, huge gulping bursts at stop lights on my way to work. Every chance I could, I closed my office door to fight the urge to run away and put my head under a pillow. I told people what I knew they wanted to hear, "I'm fine. Yep, busy with work. Those kids really keep us running. I am glad she isn't suffering anymore. Things are great. Thanks for asking." What I really wanted to say is "I'm not fine. I am devastated. I was screwed over and I am angry. I wish she hadn't died. I need her and, of yeah, my intense fear of getting this devastating brain disease has all but consumed me. How are you and your family doing?"
Pretty sure 9 out of 10 people would have run away. Here's the kicker, on some mornings, the sobs still happen and I expect them to sneak up on me from time to time. I still have days when getting out of bed hurts me physically because grief and depression hurt. Death is a part of life, grief is a part of life and the trauma we all faced after she died is most definitely part of life.
I am lucky enough to work around great counselors who have spent time checking on me, imparting their knowledge and skills with me and being supportive. I am in counseling to help me move on and grateful for it. If you are suffering, you can get help--just tell someone.
A Chance to Change. 405.840.9000
Bringing attention to the ever-changing, growing substance abuse epidemic in Oklahoma, A Chance to Change's Iona Cunningham had the chance to educate Oklahomans through two different media outlets this week and was featured on Wednesday night's KOCO 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm newscasts where she talked with Paul Folger about identifying when your child or children could benefit from a mental health and/or addiction assessment. Iona gave concrete advice on ways to identify issues or changes with your child:
- Are they sleeping more or less?
- Are they irritable, angry or unusually moody?
- Are they hanging out with a new group of kids?
- Are they avoiding you or other adults?
- Are they expressing themselves differently than usual, i.e., shouting, being quite when they are usually chatty, etc.?
- Have they lost interest in activities?
- Are they unusually energetic or lethargic?
Iona advises all parents to "trust your gut." She says that you as their parent know your child best, if you suspect something is wrong, air on the side of caution and have your child come in to A Chance to Change for an assessment. Better safe than regretful!
Most of all, believe in yourself as a parent and be gentle on yourself.
KOCO news story HERE