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Trauma survivors: What happens after the headlines?

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The media can bring public attention to a mass tragedy, highlight injustices, and demand calls for action. All of these are in the name of public service for the greater good of society.

However, the media’s nature is to always move on to the next headline. Often this happens before the local community and survivors have even started the recovery process. This is especially true of emotional recovery—the journey back to joy often doesn’t begin until everyone else has moved forward.

For many survivors of tragedies, emotional recovery can be a long and lonely journey.

While the media is still present, it’s easier to explain the needs of a healing community. But once the media leaves and attention is placed somewhere new, some survivors feel forgotten. Some injured victims are going through surgery, sometimes years after the fact, others are still dealing with the trauma and nightmares of the night, and family members are dealing with a loved one being taken away. The media might be gone, and the stories are shared far less, but there is still so much left to be done even years after.

It’s common to have trouble accessing the emotions while the news crews are still around. The spotlight brings people who care and lots of support on social media. While this is good in many ways, it also means that survivors don’t get the space they need to reflect and can’t fully process their feelings or thoughts.

However, when the news day is done, those affected must begin to process something even the strongest supporters cannot truly fathom—the unimaginable loss and unshakable memories that have forever revealed a fractured world.

Overcoming the Overwhelming

When everyone else has moved on, the unfelt emotions begin to set in.

They overwhelm. Survivors often take themselves into isolation following a traumatic event. Time is distorted and feels like it’s simultaneously frozen and slipping through the fingers. There is a feeling of being unsafe at all times. Feelings of injustice hold the soul captive, as does a looming doubt that the world can ever be joyful again.

Although it’s not often talked about, survivors of trauma can also experience a new, inexplicable anger that, if not processed, begins to fester. This can cause outbursts or overreactions others might not understand, which can make a trauma survivor worry if they might somehow have turned into a monster themselves. With this comes a sense of shame and a fight to retain everything that’s good about themselves and the world.

Healing Emotional Wounds

Healing emotional trauma is just as important as repairing physical wounds.

Stars of HOPE has a unique mission: to heal the emotional trauma in survivors of mass tragedies.

We do this with the help and support of generous people who paint and decorate stars with messages of love, hope, and support, which we send to survivors of mass tragedies all over the world. Our stars have brought light to those suffering during the darkest days of their lives. Years later, many survivors let us know they kept their star because of how much it helped them heal because they knew somebody else cared.

A trauma survivor will never tire of hearing that it’s ok to have hope for the future, that they will get to a place where they can love without fear, and that it’s okay for them to dream again.

Anyone can help a trauma survivor remember who they are, in times of both sadness and joy.

Anyone can help someone who has survived emotional trauma heal. Your messages can help a trauma survivor turn a new page.

Together, we can rewrite the greatest tragedies humanity has ever seen into its greatest moments of strength, resilience, and hope.

For more information, please click here.

Josh Garcia

Josh Garcia

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About Stars of HOPE

In response to tragedies such as mass violence and natural disasters, we use art-making in the form of a star to give hope, show compassion, and promote healing.

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