Grappling with grief: how to handle tough emotions following a community’s tragic loss

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – Wicomico County continues to grapple with grief over the loss of DFC Glenn Hilliard. Mental health professionals are offering tips on how to deal with those raw emotions.

“Secondary trauma happens after an event occurs, except that person isn’t directly involved in the event. But, they hear about aspects of the event, or they see aspects of the event that are on social media, or on TV,” said Heather Brown, PhD Supervised Registered Psych Associate by Dr. Kathy Seifert with Eastern Shore Psychological Services. “That then can trigger either some old traumas that they’ve had in the past, or they can event exhibit some signs of stress themselves.”

Brown says you should look out for loved ones isolating, having nightmares, or being irritable. “Everybody deals with situations differently. So, you can’t always say it’s going to be one way or the other,” she said. “I think, right now, everybody is still in shock mode, still figuring out what really happened. It probably feels like a dream, almost, that they’re living in, especially because this kind of thing doesn’t happen in our area.”

Plus, it’s important to allow people time to process those emotions, according to Brown. But, she says you should also be prepared to serve as a shoulder to cry on. “It’s important I think to give everybody a little space and time, but to be there and listen when they’re ready to talk. The biggest thing I would encourage, is that you do talk about it,” said Brown. “Even though it’s hard, and the emotions seem raw, it’s still good to talk about it, because then you could get feedback, or just basic support.”

Brown says it’s also important to take care of yourself. “After a traumatic event or critical incident, there are things that happen that are normal that don’t feel normal. It’s just giving yourself time to work through that, but also allowing yourself to identify when something doesn’t feel right,” she said.

Brown also recommends keeping an eye on those who are members of law enforcement. “Specifically, in the law enforcement community, there’s a huge stigma against mental health or talking about your emotions,” she said. “However, after a while, those emotions can really take a negative toll on yourself, and by talking about it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. It’s just getting stuff out that you need to process.”

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland