Seven Days Later

In the last seven days our campus has been reminded of the important and vitally necessary work that we have left to do as humans and members of a shared community.  Violence of action and violence of words have affected all corners of our community, and they echo the ongoing violence that exists in our society.  Attending to this challenging work is certainly aligned with our university’s mission of Pro Humanitate.

Being a member of a community means that one does not have to immediately witness an act of violence to experience it as a trauma.  All of us may find ourselves reacting and responding differently – sometimes those responses may be surprising or dismaying.   Each one of us gets to determine for ourselves if the violence of last week has been traumatic.   Please know that there is no “right” way to feel – or not feel – and in fact one can often many emotions simultaneously. Common emotional experiences after a traumatic event can include:

  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Irritability or anger
  • Frustration and feeling misunderstood
  • Anxiety, nervousness, and fear
  • Desire to “escape”
  • Guilt or remorse
  • Confusion
  • Ambivalence
  • Numbness and apathy

So how do we heal – both individually and as a community?  A first step is to acknowledge what happened and the varying degrees to which it may be effecting each of us.  Feelings are messy sometimes.  As they can sometimes be irrational (e.g. “why am I still feeling anxious?  I’m not in danger right now”), we can often dismiss, invalidate, or ignore them.  Know that irrational feelings are still valid – they are coming from a real place inside us and it is still important to acknowledge them.  That is how we allow the natural healing process within all of us to occur.  Taking extra time to check in on one another is also important – though remember the guidance that we all get on airplanes: “passengers should affix their own oxygen mask before assisting someone else.”  When we sit with someone else’s pain, it can help to ask directly, “what is it you need right now? How can I help?”.  If they aren’t sure of those answers, that’s ok too.  Sometimes just sitting in proximity with someone is healing enough.

Finally, while not everyone who feels traumatized needs a licensed mental health professional to heal, many find it useful to talk things out with someone with a trained ear.  Students who want to talk can contact the University Counseling Center at 336-758-5273 anytime (24/7/365) to speak with a mental health professional.

Categories: UCC News