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Other Peoples’ Tragedies: Three Steps to Coping

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English: The official emblem of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Suomi: Punaisen Ristin ja Punaisen Puolikuun yhdistysten kansainvälinen liiton virallinen tunnus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other Peoples’ Tragedies

Because this has been a truly terrible week for bad things happening to people I don’t know, I thought I’d share a couple of tips for coping with regional, national or world events that are a big deal but don’t necessarily affect you directly.

  1. Be sure they don’t actually affect you directly. Check on friends in the area through phone or text or Facebook or email to ensure they are okay. I have been in the unhappy positioning of discovering that a friend or acquaintance was affected by something that happened far enough away that I thought it wouldn’t affect me only to find myself mourning someone I cared about later.
  2. Honor those affected and those who are helping in a way that matters to you. Say a prayer, light a candle, send a donation to Red Cross, do something to delight someone — whatever it takes to help you feel like you have done something that helps. Sometimes, all I have in me is a quick moment of silence. On one memorable occasion (after Hurricane Katrina) I volunteered for the Red Cross for three weeks. Do what you can, and let the rest go.
  3. Turn off the news and take care of your emotional needs. Until the news cycle is over, stick to pre-recorded movies or MP3s, or put on DVDs and CDs. The news cycle is designed to stir up strong emotions, because that’s what sells ads. Fear, anger, and anxiety are huge money makers for media, whether it’s corporate or independent (with the exception of those who are entirely donation based, and even those guys are going to make a big deal about a Big Deal). Watch what you really want to watch (maybe fifteen minutes a day) and then move on. Give more time to your family, or your favorite cause, or your family or your favorite video game.
  4. (Repeat as necessary). Sometimes it is necessary to revisit one or more of these steps to get yourself through the tragedy. The closer the tragedy was to you (or the more it affected you, perhaps by reminding you of something that happened to you), the more likely this is true. Go back to step two or even step one as often as needed.

Tragedies are a part of life — they are a part of life that sucks, but they are unavoidable.  In today’s modern world we can know about a tragedy that affects people around the world in minutes or even seconds. Take care of yourself, and go back to giving. Repeat as necessary, and make sure to build that joy in your life that makes tragedy bearable, when it inevitably comes around again.


  • How Response to the Boston Marathon Bombings Manifested on Social Networking Sites, and What to Think. (
  • DCF Helps Parents Talk To Kids After Tragedy (
  • 5 Tips for Coping With a Tragedy (
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