Las Vegas is close to 2,000 miles away, but many of us still feel the pain here in East Tennessee.
Some of us may wonder how to cope with the emotions and how to explain the tragedy to children, especially when the images of the mass shooting scene continue to play on television and social media.
University of Tennessee Assistant Professor of counselor education Dr. Laura Wheat said if you’re feeling grief or guilt, these are the same feelings people reported after 9/11.
“It feels like these things happen so randomly that often if you’re not in the group that was impacted directly you go, ‘That could have happened here. And I can’t believe it. And I’m here, and why do I get to be here and those people don’t?’” Wheat said.
If that’s what you’re feeling, Wheat said to pay attention to that.
“There’s a fine line between processing and processing with other people and over-processing or ruminating,” Wheat said. “And I think that’s where you have to be careful and know yourself and what you can handle.”
If your young children are asking about Las Vegas or have been exposed to coverage of the shooting, Wheat advises tailoring your conversations to their age and maturity level.
“So that means for younger kids, using words they can understand to describe what happened,” Wheat said. “So something like for a six-year-old, ‘A man in Las Vegas got very angry and shot a lot of people. Some people died and some people had to go to the hospital, and a lot of adults are upset about that right now.’”
Wheat did not give specific ages of when to tell or not to tell your young children about Las Vegas. Wheat said that’s up to the parents and how they know their children.
For older kids, Wheat suggested checking on how they’re feeling and what they know about what happened.
Wheat said taking care of yourself will also be good for your kids. If it’s getting to be too much, she suggests turning off your phone and distracting yourself—go for a walk or spend time with family. Wheat also suggested doing something good for the community. She said don’t be afraid to seek professional help if needed.