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9 Tips to Help People Grieving Losses After Recent Terrorist Attacks

We hope that like Mary if you have suffered a personal loss, you will take the tragedy and turn it into something that makes the world a better place!
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Today on Open to Hope radio I had planned an interviewed with Mary Fetchet LCSW. Co-founder of Voices of September 11 and an expert in dealing with trauma. Mary's son Brad, age 24, died in the World Trade Center attacks. This show was of particular interest to my daughter, Heidi and I, as we worked on a Columbia University study with firefighter families killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also like Mary we are bereaved parents/siblings. Our plan was to discuss how terrorist attacks although public events are personal events to those who have had a death.

Our plans quickly changed with the Paris terrorist attacks, rather than talking about a past event we were now talking about a recent attack. I thought how vulnerable we are all and how we must live with hope and courage in an ever changing world. Mary discussed on the show how families are impacted by their
causing them to feel a sense of helplessness and a
. Mary gave a strong pitch for community and family preparedness. That reminded me of the fire drills and the bomb shelter drills that they had in the 70's in California. Below are nine tips from our show regarding disaster.
  1. Communicate - People in grief need clear and concise information.
  1. Empower - If possible, families need to be given remains. Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, remains are still being identified. Unfortunately to date, there are still 1,000 families who do not have any remains.
  1. Inform - Today with social media, it is not as difficult to inform people, as it was after 9/11. Mary, a social worker, started holding meetings in her home in order to update people in her area about family members who had been impacted by the 9/11 attacks. As with Paris, New York was difficult to get to after 9/11, because the city was on lock down.
  1. Patience - Mary said that long term we must remember that people grieve on their own time. She said that she goes into N.Y.C. for all of the 9/11 events and ceremonies while her husband prefers to grieve and remember Brad at home.
  1. Community Preparation - Mary is a big advocate for communities being prepared for disaster. She said that the capsizing of the boat in South Korea caused an unneeded chaos.
  1. Get Family Support - After a loss families need to be physically together as much as possible. Where there is physical distance regular conference calls and Skype are a good way to go.
  1. Watch For Triggers - Events such as Paris and Sandy hook can cause families to re-live past events causing sleep and anxiety issues
  1. Boundary setting - It is important to consider what you can and cannot listen to or be involved with. Children in the classroom should feel free to leave if someone is discussing historical events like 9/11. For the individuals personally impacted, these are personal not historical events.
  1. Support the Law - Help us to avoid terrorist attacks by helping the official's identity potential threats to our safety and encourage our government officials to develop comprehensive disaster plans.
We hope that like Mary if you have suffered a personal loss, you will take the tragedy and turn it into something that makes the world a better place!

You can listen to the entire Mary Fetchet radio show. If you have lost hope we invite you to lean on ours until you again find your own.

God Bless