A few months ago I played golf with a friend whose sister was killed on Pan Am Flight 103, which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on December 21, 1988, killing all 243 passengers. Although it had been 26 years since her sister died the loss of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 8 of this year brought back that terrible tragedy and memories of hearing about the event and identifying the remains again surfaced. I can only imagine how she felt today with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, hit by a missile while flying over the Ukraine. My heart goes out to her and all of the families who have lost loved ones in traumatic accidents and events, especially airline tragedies.
I have never lost a loved one in an airline crash, but I know the pain of recurring thoughts surrounding an accident. My 17 year-old son, Scott, and his cousin were burned to death in an automobile accident many years ago. I now know that at the time I had many of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wish someone had pointed this out to me at the time as giving a name to my suffering would have been helpful.
The following are some of the symptoms that I had and a few tips on how I coped. I hope this will be helpful to those who are beginning the grief process.
I relived the stress of the event when I:
- Heard about other traumatic deaths and revisited my experience.
- Looked at Internet and pictures on television of crash scenes.
- Listened to radio shows and watched television shows highlighting death.
- Trying to stay away from situations or people that triggered my memories of loss.
- Keeping overly busy at work.
- Excessive anger and irritability.
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating.
Ten things that may help you cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Take a news break.
- Choose a friend or a family member who can support you.
- Keep yourself well hydrated.
- Cut down or eliminate alcoholic beverages.
- Watch a silly movie.
- Read a good book.
- Listen to some uplifting music.
- Go for a walk or find other exercise.
- Consider professional help.
- Remind yourself "that this too shall pass."
Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that was impacted by Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.