Surviving Injury

Information for Friends and Family Family and friends can help provide the support injured victims need to aid in their healing. Here are some suggestions for family and friends of injured victims and survivors: • Understand that you too have been traumatized. You probably experienced shock, anxiety, and terrible dread. Seek the help and support you need in order to cope. • Accept that the recovery of your loved one will rarely be complete. Even if the physical injuries totally heal, emotional scars will remain. • Try to empower your loved one rather than be a caretaker or rescuer. Be someone that encourages the victim and survivor to take care of himself/herself as much as possible and then assist with the rest. Try to be aware of the needs of the victim and survivor and offer your assistance without insisting on it. • Work toward normalizing the victim and survivor’s experience, not minimizing it. Making light of the seriousness of their injuries or intensity of the pain can be cruel. Helping the victim and survivor understand that others with similar injuries have the same difficulties helps them feel normal. • Learn to be comfortable with rage and despair, and encourage expression of these feelings. Understand that talking about the darkest of human emotions is far healthier than stewing about them inside. Understand that vengeful fantasies and wishes are harmless, and can even be therapeutic. Remove the phrase, “You shouldn’t feel that way” from your vocabulary. • Expect guilt, especially if someone else was killed in the crash. Gently encourage the victim and survivor to approach his or her feelings of guilt with rational thinking. If there are components of the crash for which the victim and survivor may legitimately be guilty, help him or her understand that this component is only a small part of the complexity of the crash. • Expect anniversary reactions. No one can explain it, but injured victims and survivors often experience a resurgence of the physical pain as well as depression on or near the anniversaries of the crash, even though they may not realize it’s the anniversary. • Allow the victim and survivor to tell and re-tell the story of


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