When a terrorist strikes, it seems like the entire world is upside down and confusing. Terrorism is a violent act committed by people who want to get attention for their cause.
Acts of terrorism have occurred for many years in many places. For the United States, the worst attacks happened on September 11, 2001. Terrorism scares everyone because no one knows when or where it will take place.
Right after a terrorist attack, everyone has questions they want answered and feelings they need to express. Lots of people suffer because of these attacks, many more than those who were injured or killed.
So how can a person cope after something awful has happened? Here are some things you can do:
- Give yourself a fear reality check. Thinking about terrorist attacks can make you worried about your safety and your family’s safety. The images you see on TV make terrorist attacks seem so close by, even if you live far away from where they happened. Remember that the chances that a terrorist will hurt you are very, very small.
- Talk it out and share your feelings with others. You may be feeling different emotions at different times. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Confusion. Even numbness — not feeling anything at all. These feelings are normal reactions to a tragedy. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel and listen to others as they share their feelings with you. Your parents, friends, teachers, and others can help you and help them.
- Take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating, and worrying too much can make you sick. As much as possible, try to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and keep a normal routine. It may be hard to do, but it can keep you healthy and better able to handle a tough time.
- Take a TV break. Although it’s natural to want to know what’s happening, don’t spend hours glued to the television set. Taking a break from watching what’s going on in the world is OK. Read, play board games, or go outside.
- Get creative and express yourself. Drawing pictures and writing letters can help you feel better. Maybe you’d like to send a letter or homemade card to rescue workers, doctors, and others who cared for people who were hurt. You also can start a journal and record your thoughts and feelings. You can share this with others or keep it to yourself.
- Be respectful of others. You may have heard certain countries, religions, or political causes blamed for terrorism. But it’s important to remember that very few people believe in killing and hurting innocent people to make their point. Don’t give in to prejudice by blaming a whole group or by disliking people just because of the country where they were born, the faith they practice, the way they dress, or the color of their skin.
- Help out and be with others. In times of tragedy, people find comfort in being together and supporting each other. Find ways to show you care and that the community is sticking together. Hold a friend’s hand or give someone a hug. It will make you both feel a little better.
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2014