Coping with a Crisis

Jewish Family Service offers tips to help families cope with the recent tragedy.

CINCINNATI (OCTOBER 30, 2018)

 

The hate-filled shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue deeply affects us and our families.  "As we cry, pray, and take action to support the victims in Pittsburgh, we are also faced with finding ways to personally cope with this tragedy and public display of antisemitism," says Jewish Family Service CEO Liz Vogel. 

 

She shares that this past weekend's crisis can especially be difficult for children and for Holocaust survivors. Jewish Family Service has a team of knowledgeable social workers who can listen, counsel, and offer support to the community. They offer these tips:

 

How to help your children (including teens) cope

Having to explain the unexplainable to our innocent children there are people who harm others because of their political views, color of the skin and religious affiliation is difficult. As a parent, the first step is to ask yourself, "How has the Pittsburgh shooting impacted my sense of security and overall well-being?"

 

When you can be emotionally available, it is a time to talk with your children.

 

  1. Start the conversation. Not talking about the shooting can make the event even more threatening in your child’s mind.
  2. Ask what your child already knows. Listen carefully for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns.
  3. Encourage your child to ask questions, and answer those questions directly. While it is important to discuss the likelihood of this re-occurrence, it is also a time to review plans your family has for keeping safe in the event of any crisis situation.
  4. Limit media exposure - theirs and yours.  If your child has watched coverage, ask about what they think about what was seen. This also gives you an opportunity to discuss the event and gently correct misperceptions.
  5. Be a positive role model. Consider sharing your feelings about the shooting with your child, but at a level they can understand. You may express sadness and empathy for the victims and their families.
  6. Be patient. In times of stress, children may have trouble with their behavior, concentration, and attention. They may need a little extra guidance, patience, care, and love.
  7. Extra help. Should reactions continue or at any point interfere with your child’s abilities to function, contact local mental health professionals who have expertise in trauma. 

How to help Holocaust Survivors cope

Gail Ziegler, Senior Manager of Jewish Family Service Center for Holocaust Survivors, shared information by Myra Giberovitch, MSW, PSW, a genocidal trauma specialist.

 

Giberovitch observes that Holocaust survivors respond to antisemitic events in different ways. Some experience anxiety, fear, and withdrawal because they are reminded of the acts of prejudice and violence that spread throughout Europe before the Holocaust. Others are worried more about for the harm that may befall their children and grandchildren. In the words of one survivor, "I don’t want my children to live through what I experienced in the Holocaust.' Some survivors become angry and strengthen their resolve to educate others about the early warning signs of genocide and its prevention.

 

We can help Holocaust survivors in the following ways:

 

  1. Listen as they share their thoughts and feelings.  Share that what they are feeling are normal reactions and many people are feeling the same way.
  2. Encourage survivors to speak about their concerns with their family, friends, and other interested individuals. Giving a voice to their worries and/or fears helps diffuse them.
  3. Encourage vulnerable survivors to limit watching television about anti-Semitic incidents. Too much media can affect their physical and psychological health.
  4. Encourage them in brainstorming to identify ways in which the situation for Jews is different today than it was in the 1930s.
  5. Focus on government bodies, interfaith coalitions, community organizations, and prominent leaders who denounce these incidents. Show them articles that demonstrate the Jewish community has important allies.
  6. Encourage survivors to attend community rallies that demonstrate solidarity with their fellow Jews.
  7. Encourage survivors to practice self-care, e.g. eat comfort foods; exercise; engage in social activities; and practice relaxation exercises. 

"Jewish Family Service is always be there to strengthen lives in times of need," says Vogel. "If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma, or wants help managing the fall-out from this tragedy, please encourage them to call Jewish Family Service at: 513-469-1188. Our team will connect them with the most appropriate resource to meet their needs."