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When words are not enough: The ripple effect of the Arena terror attack

When words are not enough: The ripple effect of the Arena terror attack


It is impossible for most of us to fully understand what the families and friends of those who died or were injured in Monday’s terror attack are going through. Our brains naturally try to make sense of what happened but in this kind of atrocity, there is no sense. We can feel great empathy towards those families – people who were doing the normal things we do, going to the places we go to. We can also begin to feel great fear for ourselves and our loved ones whilst going about our daily lives. Creating this fear is the fundamental basis of terrorism.

Even though we may not have known those directly involved, this is an attack on our community, our values and our way of life and the psychological impact can be far reaching.

We’ve helped people recover from horrific events across the world and offer this advice for people from our own community now.

Many people feel shocked or even numb. Strong emotions such as distress, anger and grief are common. People often don’t know what to do or how to begin to feel anything near normal again.

In the early days, small things may make a difference to how people are. Things such as

  • Doing what you can: Trauma leaves us feeling helpless and out of control. Sometimes the smallest acts can help – giving blood, helping a stranger, random acts of kindness. These are all things that connect us with the best values of humanity when we have been faced with the worst.
  • Limiting your exposure to news: We often feel drawn to watch the news and follow the conversations on social media, even when they are distressing and it can feel like there is no escape. It’s not a sign of not caring to take some time away from this when it feels overwhelming. When we see such devastation and grief, we can see the whole world as a very dark, hopeless place. For some people, that can lead to a spiral into depression. In every atrocity, the human spirit shines brightly despite those who would seek to diminish it. Look for the compassion, strength and caring acts in the news reports.
  • Being kind to yourself and others: It’s the people around us that get us through dreadful events. Normal life can mean we’re too busy to properly connect with others. A simple hug or taking time to remind our loved ones that they are loved are important ways to reconnect. Talking about difficult thoughts and feelings can help whether it’s to a trusted friend or a professional.
  • Maintaining some kind of routine: It can sometimes feel disrespectful to carry on with normal life, even to have fun and laugh. Take time to reflect and grieve the losses but balance this with doing things that soothe you or give you some sense of control.

Manchester will never forget what happened. But we will all stand together and support each other in the long road ahead.

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