Dealing With the Tragic Event at the Indiana State Fair

Daniel E. Novak, PhD, ACSW, LCSW
Program Manager, Bereavement /Decedent Care Services
Embracing Hope ~ Bereavement & Counseling Center

 

The tragic event at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, August 13, is likely to bring up so many emotions. All of us are affected by the accident, whether we were at the fairgrounds or not. By watching on TV the stage collapse and people’s screams and expressions of disbelief, we inevitably share with them some of their desperation.

It is an unfortunate event that changes us as individuals and as a community. It tears apart the overall feeling of safety that we all have enjoyed for many years. “Things like this don’t happen in Indiana,” some might say. Nonetheless, the ones who most certainly are hurting now are those who were there, those who were injured, those who were assisting the victims, and those who are grieving their loved ones.

During moments of grief, people are likely to experience feelings of deep sadness, anger, fear and anxiety, confusion, and hopelessness just to name a few. In addition, they might feel disoriented and vulnerable, and have difficult with concentration and memory. People often question their faith. Some of the physical signs of grief could be loss of appetite, sleep disruption, low energy, shortness of breath, changes in heartbeat, physical pain, and more.

Lastly, it is not uncommon for people to feel disconnected from others, to have a sense that the world is somewhat unreal or dream-like, and to move at a slower pace as if the air were suddenly thicker or they were carrying something heavy.

All these reactions and others vary from person to person. There is no recipe or formula to grieve. There is no shortcut. Grief is part of the human experience. We all must go through it the best way we can. These are crucial moments during which people need to rely on family and friends.

Not all people who grieve experience drastic changes with their worldview, or develop depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. However, if these symptoms persist and begin to interfere with daily routine, work/school, and relationships, then it is necessary to seek professional help.


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