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Navigating Collective Trauma

This year’s anniversary of 9/11 might be met with complex emotions. We are still learning how to navigate life in a global health crisis, and processing and adjusting to the devastation caused by hurricanes Hénri and Ida. All of these events are examples of collective trauma, which is the shared psychological response to a catastrophe. This catastrophe is represented in the memory of a group of people (Hirschberger, 2018).

Navigating the challenges of the pandemic, natural disaster, and the memories of 9/11 could be overwhelming. Making meaning of these catastrophic events, processing their consequences, and adjusting to new rules and new ways of being could result in mental and emotional distress connected to fear, confusion, concerns regarding physical and emotional safety, uncertainty, and loss of community.

Overwhelm can be managed in the following ways:

  1. Limit news and social media intake.

  2. Engage in movement. Take a walk, stretch, or exercise.

  3. Be curious about emotions, and where the body holds tension.

  4. Lean into spirituality and mindfulness.

  5. Connect with friends, family, and loved ones.

  6. Speak with a licensed therapist.

If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed today, give yourself some grace. You are holding a lot. You are coping, and that is all that is required.


Hard lessons from 9/11. (2021, September). The Harvard Gazette.

van der Kolk, M.D., Bessel. (2014). The body keeps the score. [ebook edition]. Penguine Group (USA), LLC.

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