At times like this, it’s easy to feel helpless. In reality, there’s a lot that you can do to make a difference. If you feel compelled to take action, I encourage you to reach out. Let those who have lost loved ones know they are supported. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. Just knowing you are there and thinking of them will make a difference.
Let the first responders in your community know that you appreciate them. They haven’t yet had time to emotionally process what has happened as they are busy putting themselves out there doing their best to keep us safe. There are great people doing hard work in an imperfect system. They’ve lost a loved one, some are carrying the burden of recently having to take a life, and are still expected to report to work every morning. When they come home, ask them how they are doing, not details of what they have done. Now is a time to let them know you have their back.
Do not suffer in isolation. Let people know how you feel. Take time for yourself when you are not working, and do something just to care for yourself. Look under the anger and allow yourself to be vulnerable, noticing the deeper feelings. Resist anger and hatred and connect with the deeper feelings that unite us.
Be a good listener. We want to be able to support others without judgement. Don’t try to fix them or change the way they feel, just allow them to share their experience so that they are not alone. That’s the most powerful possible intervention. Decreasing people’s sense of isolation.
Resist interpreting one horrific action as evidence that the world is unsafe and people can’t be trusted. Notice the overwhelming number of exceptions to the rule: huge numbers of unsolicited acts of kindness and solidarity.
If you want your assistance to be more concrete, consider reaching out to financially support families who have lost loved ones. Donate to the Red Cross Stronger Together Nova Scotia Fund
If you would like to help support on an organizational level, consider supporting a Nova Scotia based organization that is supporting others. Many non-profit organization are struggling right now. Keep your money and support local.
Consider sponsoring a seat for a first responder to be able to attend a program. We are a non-profit, and have many unfunded first responders and caregivers reaching out for help. Your support would make a real difference. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is able to accept directed donations on our behalf. The Dollar a Day Foundation has also been a big supporter.
If you’d like to be a part of supporting first responders and their families, join our Landing Strong Community. Word of mouth (or sharing electronically) is the most powerful way of spreading a message. Help us spread the word though “likes” sharing our posts so that people are aware of our services. We are currently enrolling participants for our Trauma and Resiliency program and our Mind-Body Health and Recovery Group. Ideally people do this work before they become injured, allowing them to stay in their jobs longer.
Thinking of you all, and wishing you a safe and supported weekend.
ps. a special thank-you to Helen Painter for creating the beautiful artwork
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong