Dealing with Grief and Loss during Hurricane Harvey
We are never prepared for tragedy. It has been 12 years since a category 3 or stronger has made landfall in the United States. There has been more than 40 inches of rainfall in southeast Texas since Thursday evening. Just to get an idea — the average YEARLY rainfall for Houston is 49.76 inches.
More than 50 counties are flooded and over 30,000 people are in shelters. There were 56,000 911 calls in just 15 hours. There is no playbook for handling natural disasters. You can’t know how you might react in any given situation.
Step 1: Start by taking a nice, deep breath. More than likely you have a rush of emotions flooding you. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step. Cry if you need to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a hug. Waking up to your house under water and losing all your possessions is a big deal! There is no way to minimize this loss.
Step 2: Find some gratitude. It might seem like the last thing you want to do at this time, but research shows that gratitude can make you feel more positive. You’re alive! There is no price on your life. See if you can find 5 things to be grateful for.
Step 3: Accept the things you cannot change. A tough, but necessary step. You can’t go back in time and change things, you can only control what you do going forward. Start by making a list of things you need to take care of. Insurance claims probably top that list. Finding new shelter. Work. Kids. Pets. There are so many resources available that want to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, be sure to utilize all the help you can get. Do not feel bad about accepting help. People want to help and it’s okay to accept it. The Houston Press has complied a list of food banks. Check out this link to .
Step 4: Lean on friends and family. Help one another. If you are in a position to help others, do so. This will help you process what you are going through. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Being with loved ones and working together toward a common goal will help you during this tragic time.
Step 5: You might need some extra help processing what you’ve been through. Living through something like a hurricane can induce post traumatic symptoms. Everyone is different and you can’t control how your brain processes information. Seeking help from a mental health professional to help process this information can greatly reduce symptoms of distress.
Here’s the good news. Human kindness is everywhere, if you look. People taking their personal boats to rescue people and their animals. Neighbors helping one another. Strangers helping other strangers. Volunteers from all over the country. Donations being poured in from everywhere. The human spirit is one of resilience.
You’ve probably seen this quote from Mr. Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
If you or someone you know are struggling with the aftermath of a tragedy, please call a counselor for professional assistance.
Author: Marina Spriggs, M.A., LPC-Intern