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Managing Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event

Posted on October 4, 2023

Ask the Expert

Chaplain Sally H.
Director of Support Services
In our close-knit community, tragedies affect us deeply, often leaving us feeling trapped in a cycle of sorrow. If you're having difficulty managing your emotions, Chaplain Sally H. from Islands Hospice offers tips to find solace in tough times.

The Maui wildfires have left our community grappling with an array of emotions. The loss of loved ones, homes, cherished belongings, and even a sense of safety has stirred up a profound sense of grief. While the wildfires have caused widespread anguish, some individuals may also experience complicated grief– ongoing heightened state of mourning. Those more closely impacted by the fires may feel survivor's remorse, or guilt that comes from surviving a disaster.

No matter your proximity to the tragedy, we are a tight-knit community, and intense emotions can be overwhelming and persistent. It might feel like you're trapped in a cycle of sorrow, unable to move forward. If you’re having difficulty managing your emotions, read on for a few tips from Islands Hospice Director of Support Services Chaplain Sally H. to find solace during these challenging times.

1. Recognition of emotions - Everyone grieves differently, and there is no "right" way to grieve. Accepting that you're going through a challenging phase is important. Recognize the emotions you're feeling, whether it's guilt, sadness, or anger. Understanding and naming your feelings can be the first step towards managing them.

2. Seek professional help - Complicated grief and survivor's remorse can be tough to navigate alone. Therapists or grief counselors, particularly those familiar with trauma and loss, can offer invaluable support. They provide coping strategies tailored to your experience and can guide you through the healing process.

3. Connect with support groups - Support groups provide a safe space to express feelings, share experiences, and listen to others who have faced similar challenges. Sharing your journey with those who understand can lessen the sense of isolation and provide collective healing.

4. Establish healing rituals - Whether it's writing in a journal, lighting a candle in remembrance, or visiting a special place, creating a personal ritual can offer a sense of purpose and connection.

Everyone copes with tragedy differently, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. At Islands Hospice, we're here to support you through your grief journey. Whether you're struggling with complicated grief, survivor's remorse, or any other emotions, our team is here to provide guidance and solace. Visit our Bereavement Services page for more information about our grief support groups and services.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or needs immediate support, please call or text Hawaii CARES at 988 for free, confidential support with a trained crisis counselor.

Note: This blog is intended to provide general information about managing grief after a disaster or traumatic event. The information provided in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your emotional well-being during challenging times.