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Coping With The July 7, 2005 London Terrorist Attacks Suggestions For 9/11 Families


By Dr. Robin F. Goodman, VOICES Director of Family Programs


Across the United States, people awoke to the tragic news of the attack on the London public transportation system. Once again the media was filled with pictures and reports of individuals in the aftermath of an attack on innocent people. For those who experienced the tragic events of September 11th, this latest attack in London can be particularly upsetting.  


It would not be unusual for adults and children to have certain reactions their own personal aftershocks - to the terrorist attacks in London. Some have been doing well and are surprised by new distress whereas others may find that old feelings are reawakened. Reactions will vary according to the age of the person and 9/11 experience and are to be expected rather than a sign of weakness. Individuals may find themselves:  


Feeling empathy for those in London  

Reexperiencing thoughts, feelings, and memories related to 9/11 or other pervious traumas  

Feeling life is unpredictable  

Worried about personal safety or the safety of others  

Wishing to be close to loved ones  

Having increased arousal, feeling jumpy, or more alert to particular reminders of tastes, sights, smells, and sounds  

Having new physical symptoms or a return of old aches, pains or medical problems  

Feeling out of sorts and having difficulty focusing on work or tasks  

Having disrupted sleeping or eating  

Being more sad, upset, or fatigued  

Feeling distant or alone  

Being more irritable or moody  

Angry at those who caused the attacks and renewed anger at those responsible for 9/11  

Having a desire to help  

The following are some suggestions for how to manage difficult thoughts and feelings:  


For adults:  


Limit viewing of news  

Give yourself permission to be more upset than usual and know it is expected  

Access friends and family members for support  

Have some structure to your day  

Keep in mind what has been helpful in the past and engage in those activities now, such as taking walks, listening to music, seeking spiritual comfort  

Focus on things in your world that are within your control however small  

Realize there is a ebb and flow to events and feelings and look towards a calmer time  

Be prepared and alert to any necessary changes in travel plans  

Monitor the tendency to jump to conclusions, avoid reacting to unsubstantiated rumors  

Be realistic about what you can do to help others  

Share your thoughts with others via bulletin boards such as the one at Voices  

Go to reliable sources to send financial support  


For those caring for children:  


Most children will go on with their day to day life yet others may be more sensitive to the latest news  

Help them keep to their usual routine and activities  

Keep in mind that children hear more than adults think and they can easily misinterpret information  

Expect children to ask the same questions repeatedly or to come and go with new questions  

Keep in mind that younger children are most concerned with people and places in their immediate world whereas older children are more sensitive to the larger issues  

Caregivers may over or underestimate their children's reactions  

Avoid television viewing for the very young, limit viewing by older children or watch with them

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