How are you managing with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? It’s hard to avoid fear or overwhelm about what could happen to any of us. It’s terrible to think about all the loss and devastation in Japan, and now the nuclear implications.
If you live in California, are you having increased fear about the chance for a “big one” here? Have you been having memories of other quakes you have lived through or any of the many disasters that have occurred in the recent past? Today I heard someone on the radio talking about global warming and the possibility that parts of New York City could be underwater after a major hurricane. Maybe you know someone who lived through Hurricane Katrina or someone who didn’t make it.
There can also be guilt associated with survival or good fortune. It is hard to look at pictures or watch scenes from the disaster without feeling glad it wasn’t you and perhaps guilty that you don’t have more empathy for the people there. However, this is a normal response to witnessing a traumatic event.
It is good to want to stay abreast of the news from Japan, but also important not to inundate yourself with images of suffering and tragedy. It’s okay to take breaks from the news and focus on more positive events.
Another universal reaction to a natural disaster, after disbelief, shock, and overwhelm, is helplessness. It is recommended that you take some action to help if you are moved to do so. Feeling empathy and generosity towards others who are less fortunate helps us to help the affected and to help ourselves.
If you are feeling panic, isolation, or despair about what is happening in Japan or the possibility of what could or did happen in your life already, it may be a good time to reach out for help, in whatever form that might take for you. Human connection and support is one of the best antidotes to illness and suffering.


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