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Holiday coping tips for 1 October survivors

Posted at 9:28 AM, Dec 20, 2019

In advance of the holidays and New Year’s Eve fireworks, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is sharing coping tips to help anyone affected by the 1 October tragedy.

Mental health professionals stress that everyone grieves and copes with trauma differently and on his or her own timeline. Reminders of 1 October can occur at unexpected times, such as when hearing a particular song, watching news stories about other violent events, or seeing and hearing fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Experts also offer these suggestions for dealing with holidays and special anniversaries after enduring trauma from a disaster or tragic incident:

  • Be aware that special days may be difficult and remind you of your losses. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Participate in rituals (e.g., group meals, spiritual services, movies) that may provide comfort.
  • Plan activities before special dates arrive. It is helpful to prepare what you are going to do and with whom you will do those activities.
  • Reach out to family and friends. Isolation is not helpful. Invite or accept invitations to participate in rituals, social events, or even to be in the company of another.
  • Talk about your losses with someone who will listen and understand. This is normal and may continue beyond the anniversary and special days.
  • Do things that might help you with overwhelming emotions. If you like to exercise, take walks, or write in a journal, make sure to do so in the days before and the special days themselves.
  • Do what you would like to do rather than what you think you should do.
  • Create new ways to acknowledge and celebrate special days.
  • It is natural to feel sad and/or angry. You may feel bitter that others seem to be enjoying themselves when you are having a difficult time. Good wishes and holiday greetings may remind you of your losses. Try not to ignore or deny the feelings, and be aware they are likely connected to your losses and may not be directed at anyone in particular.
  • Draw on your faith and spirituality. For many, faith is a source of strength and comfort every day and, most especially, during difficult times. Reach out to your faith adviser and your spiritual community to support and console you.
  • Accept kindness and help from others. Difficult days may be very important times to open up.
  • Helping others may help you. If you are the type of person who gets satisfaction from helping others, you might want to think of small ways that you can be of help to others in need during difficult times. Helping can be as simple as going through your closet to find gently used clothing that might be of use to someone else.

The Resiliency Center encourages anyone affected by the 1 October tragedy to reach out for emotional and mental health support. The office will adhere to the following holiday schedule:

  • Dec. 24 — Open 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Dec. 25 — Closed
  • Dec. 31 — Open 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Jan. 1 — Closed

The Resiliency Center re-opens on Jan. 2 at 8:30 a.m. After hours on weekends or holidays, call the national Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 to talk with a trained crisis counselor. Bridge Counseling also has local therapists available by phone 24/7. Its phone number is 702-474-6450.

The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center provides free resources and support to anyone affected by the attack, including survivors, friends and family members of victims, responders and their families, and those who witnessed the incident or tried to assist victims.