How Can We Cope With Emotions From Sandy?
It was one week ago today that Hurricane Sandy ripped through New Jersey, leaving devastation and destruction behind. As New Jerseyans are sifting through the aftermath, making their way through the rubble and debris, many are finding themselves overwhelmed with the emotions that are beginning to come to the surface.
"The first thing is to really understand what it is and it is really a loss," said Dr. Steven Tobias, Director of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown. "People will go through a mourning period which is very appropriate."
"I think that people are feeling very overwhelmed right now, sad and despondent and that's ok. I think some people may be in the denial phase. Some people might be energized to take care of things, do whatever needs to be done to take care of immediate problems that may have been presented. But, at some point, the loss really may hit them. So, it's important to allow for a mourning period," said Tobias.
It's important for those affected to surround themselves with people. "That is what people naturally do in times of disaster. They reach out to others and often times, communities get stronger as a result when they've all been through a shared experience," said Tobias. "Being with others can not only help for practical reasons, but it also allows for emotional support. Whatever degree of loss or depravation people will be going through, it helps to have that personal connection with others."
"Human beings have a mechanism which allows them to adapt to situations. They may be in shock and overwhelmed at first, but denial is a typical response as well. When the crisis passes, things begin to hit them. It's a matter of understanding that this is a process and understanding that it's ok to feel sad and overwhelmed for a while over the losses that have occurred and that with time, it will get better. With time, people do heal and communities do come back," said Tobias.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services through its Disaster and Terrorism Branch has launched a crisis counseling program of services. The toll free helpline is: 1-(877) 294-HELP (4357) and the TTY number is 1 (877) 294-4356.