4- Find friends and loved ones to talk to. This is one of the most important part. Meet carefully selected friends and talk, talk, talk, with a cup of tea, a biscuit and a comfortable armchair. Ask for hugs. Cry on a loved one's shoulder. Don't feel embarrassed by your big emotions. Allow yourself to ask for a loving friend's time. Friends and loved ones will come to you if you ask.
For the friends and loved one who can listen to the traumatised person, here are a few tips:
1- Don't encourage your traumatised friend to make sense of things now. Just allow them to talk and talk and talk even if what is said doesn't make sense. They don't want to be listened to for facts, they want to let things out, whatever it is.
2- Don't offer advice. Usually traumatised people don't want advice just yet. Just a friendly ear.
3- Don't ask questions. Just listen. The only questions to ask are:
'How are you?' 'Tell me more'. 'Is there more you want to say?' 'Would you like a cup of tea?' 'What do you want for dinner?'
4- Stay present with your traumatised friend expressing distress and repeat back what you hear: it is a really good way that your friend will feel that you are just right there for them: For example: 'What I hear you say is that you are so confused with it all. You have so much anger towards that suicide bomber, you wish he was still alive so that you could kill him. Yes I hear you.' And then, you can validate what they are saying: 'It makes sense to me that you have these thoughts given what's happened to you'.
They don't want to hear your opinions at this stage because you just can't know how they are feeling. So stay with them, parking your own opinion on the side. Later on, in about three months time, your friend might then be ready to hear your opinion or advice to start to make sense of things. But not now.
5- Offer hugs.
6- Allow for silence to happen. If your traumatised friend doesn't want to talk. Don't talk. Just sit with them, in silence. You might want to ask if they want a blanket, or a cuddly toy (no matter how old they are), or touch your hand or a hug.
If you have lost a loved one or a child.
Your grief is enormous and complex and will stay this way for a long time.
The five stages of grief are (Kubler-Ross): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. These stages are not neat nor linear. It is very common to flip from denial, anger, bargaining, depression, back to anger, and depression, and denial, and anger, and bargaining, depression and anger and depression, anger, bargaining, depression, and so on and on, for quite some time. This process usually lasts for two years.
When you reach acceptance, what does it look like? Acceptance is not to say ‘what happened is ok’. Because what happened will never be ok. You will never be ok that you have lost a child in this horrific circumstance. Acceptance is to learn to live with the fact that you will always miss your child. Your life will never be the same again. Professional help can help reach that stage. But before you find a professional, give yourself plenty of time and space to discharge all of your big emotions as mentioned above.