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Talking to a person who has just experienced a tragedy is difficult. Do you want to help, bring relief, but don't know how to do it?

Suffering evokes compassion, but also intimidation, helplessness and fear. Sometimes you avoid contact with people who are experiencing a tragedy. You are afraid that with an awkward word you will cause unpleasantness or pain. So it's good to know how to talk to traumatized people. First of all, it is worth knowing the mistakes we usually make.

Don't force yourself to comfort

The most common mistake is trying to comfort the person who is suffering too quickly. We imagine emotional support and psychological help on the model of immediate rescue. The soul, however, works differently from the body, and comfort too quickly does harm rather than good. Imagine that a little child has his beloved dog run into the wheels, and his parents are trying to soothe his crying by saying: "Don't worry, we'll buy you a new one …". A mother whose child has died does not want anyone to take her pain away from her. On the contrary, he may perceive consolation as something bad, something out of place. And there is wisdom to it, because if we comfort ourselves too quickly after a tragedy and run away from suffering, the pain never really leaves us. Years will pass and it returns stronger. In addition, psychologists have found that such repressed, "frozen" suffering becomes the source of various mental disorders, has a devastating effect on the body, and also facilitates the development of somatic diseases such as cancer.

Just be

So what should you do when someone has experienced a tragedy? In the first moment, specific, tangible help in settling specific matters is important. Often times, after a tragic event, a man is not able to do so. When it comes to psychological help, relatives do not have to say any specific things in this first phase. Some tragedies cannot be "sweetened". However, it is important to be with the suffering person. Knowing that you are not alone with your pain is a huge help. Accompanying someone in pain is a difficult matter - trauma is followed by all unpleasant emotions such as despair, pain, regret, anger, fear, often hatred, a sense of injustice and a sense of guilt - and their expression is sometimes dramatic. However, if we are able to listen and accept what someone is experiencing, we help him. This is especially important in the first phase after the experiencetrauma.

Typical reactions following a trauma:

  • The first instinct is disbelief and denial.
  • Then (sometimes even after a week) there is anger, grief towards the world, grudges against God, despair, etc.
  • The next phase is grief, mourning and depression - breakdown, depression, apathy.
  • Acceptance and reconciliation with fate may appear only at the end.
Worth knowing

Golden Rules of Support

  • If you want to help, allocate a suitable place for it. The conversation about suffering should not take place anywhere, e.g. in the corridor.
  • Reserve time for the interview. If it lasts too long (eg more than 2 hours), it is worth suspending it, eg by: "Let's go back to this tomorrow, OK?". Most of all, listen, talk less.
  • Take your time to relieve it. Allow the other person to experience suffering, but don't feed it.
  • Don't talk hard. "Get a grip, don't get hysterical", "It happens to other people too", etc. Experiencing suffering and pain is necessary for the improvement to occur later.
  • Be empathetic, but don't let these feelings flood you.
  • Be careful with giving advice. "To stop crying, you must …", "If you want to stop suffering, then …". Advice is not necessary, it is more important to ask questions, listen to the answers and possibly make suggestions.
  • Show kindness. It doesn't always bring relief, but it certainly won't hurt.
  • Consider concrete real help. People after a tragic experience are often unable to take ordinary activities, arrange necessary matters, etc.

Another common mistake we make is overly empathetic. We try to show maximum compassion, it happens that we identify with the tragedy of the other person. Such a "merging" with the suffering of another person and experiencing his feelings with him does not help him at all. Too much compassion is a distraction in two ways. A suffering person may feel that their pain has "infected" someone and has hurt them, and this inhibits the tendency to share it with someone. Psychologists have also found that people who are overly compassionate often behave in an antisocial way - instead of helping, they start to focus on their own emotions. A suffering man needs understanding, but it is carried by people who are not overwhelmed by this suffering themselves. Then it is important to lean on someone strong.

Try to understand

People experience very individual dramatic events. If we want to help another person, we must first understand the specifics of their experience. In the pain phase, people need itpresence of others. In the regret phase, however, mere presence is not enough. At this stage, it is important to listen carefully, ask questions, and empathize. Then you also need a discussion and the ability to show other sides of the event, which the sufferer often does not pay attention to. There is also room for spiritual support at this point. This applies not only to matters of religion, but also to the conversation about the meaning of life, its purpose, own place on earth and plans for the future. Suffering makes people confront their current vision of the world. Many psychologists believe that under the influence of tragedy we often become better - mature, wiser and more responsible. On the condition, however, that we experience our pain and reflect on it. Plus, conversations with other people are very useful. And this is the task of loved ones: compassion, dialogue, change of perspective. It brings relief to the sufferer, gives hope for the future and - after some time - allows him to come to terms with his cruel fate.

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