By now, anniversaries such as birthdays, holidays and other celebrations can have passed for the first time after the incident. Anniversaries can be challenging because they bring back memories from the time before the incident. It can be useful to help those affected prepare for these days.
Many are surprised that their emotions are still so intense – that they are still reacting so strongly. Some have not wanted to be open to their own emotions; others have not had the energy or the courage to do so.
Nils Petter Reinholdt – Special Adviser, RVTS East
It is the situation that is abnormal, not the emotions and reactions of the impacted individuals. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise and work with strong emotions even though they can be both frightening (despair, anger) and shameful (relief, hatred). At this stage, many enter deeper into their grief. They need to be able to switch between dealing with the loss and allowing themselves to have positive feelings in daily life: What do I need? How can that be achieved? What can I do?
This switching between the loss and the new life can provide:
- Strength through experiencing and tolerating own emotions
- Self-respect by having positive emotions about self and others
- Self-understanding by discovering what triggers the different emotions
- Satisfaction by recognising how much there still is to be happy about in life
Affected individuals can experience difficulty in dealing with impatience, frustration and need for control. However, relatively simple adjustments in daily life can change the reactions and make life easier. This can also change the emotions and help those affected to be more like the person they wish to be.
For some people, emotions related to the incident can emerge much later than in others. It is important to explain this to prevent them feeling guilty for the lack of reactions. Personality and life situation will influence when reactions appear. If daily life is hectic, emotions can be delayed.