Devastating Storms & Emotional Trauma

by Jim Kendall, LCSW

The devastating storms, tornados, and loss of life in our city fill our hearts with sadness and an initial feeling of helplessness. Those who have experienced similar trauma from previous disasters, including floods, tornados, derechos, fires, and other tragedies, may have been re-traumatized, even if they were sparred the anguish this time. The mind and body experience the emotional reaction as trauma.

Individuals who lost family, friends, or homes may still be working through the natural grieving process by acknowledging and recognizing the emotions that resurface. Feelings of anxiety or fear of recurrence are normal, especially when inclement weather events are predicted in the future. Here are five reminders of the emotional impact of such events:

  1. Not everyone will experience the same feelings, even if they experienced the same event.
  2. You may experience intrusive images and feelings when you least expect it.
  3. Emotional distress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, sleep disorder, and suicidal ideation have been reported as mental health problems experienced by victims after storms and other severe weather events.
  4. It may help you to take some action to regain a feeling of contribution and control. Help others by volunteering to help clean up or donating to local assistance organizations.
  5. Be informed, but not obsessed.

Take some moments to reflect upon the experience and credit yourself for your resilience to have endured this hardship. If you are finding that memories of this or previous storms, tornados, or other losses have challenged your usual coping abilities, call Work/Life Connections-EAP at 615-936-1327 and make a confidential appointment to meet with one of our counselors in our offices or virtually.