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The Sorrow of a Nation: Coping After Tragedy

Words cannot express the sorrow of a nation that grieves the loss of innocent youth and those who gave their lives to protect them.  Emotions run deep; from confusion and sadness to anxiety and anger. In the wake of such trauma, it is our natural response to traumatic events, to try to make sense of what we experienced.  We search for meaning. Why would such a horrific event happen? What can we do to ensure the safety of our loved ones?

And, yet, we are likely to never understand why on December 14, 2012, a 20 year-old, heavily armed man opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing twenty children between the ages of 6 and 8 and six staff members, before turning a gun on himself.

Many have offered their thoughts on the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  Some have turned to their faith in G-d to lead the nation through this turbulent time, while others have turned to government to lobby for stronger gun control laws.  Whereas, others, still, focus on the need to fund our mental health delivery systems in order to better prevent such tragedy in the future.

Many of us, myself included, will send our children to elementary school tomorrow and will think for a moment, whereas we had not before, about the safety of our children as they board their buses.  We will bid them farewell, tell them we love them, and wish them a good day. We will also take joy in seeing them return, hugging them a bit tighter at the end of the day, in appreciation of what we have.

It can be challenging to process such events and address our emotional responses. As much as I would like to express my frustration for our undervalued, underfunded mental healthcare in this country, I will instead provide a list of good resources for your own healing so that we may move toward a better tomorrow:

1. Disaster Distress Helpline

2. Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting

3. A National Tragedy: Helping Chidren Cope – TIPS for PARENTS AND TEACHERS

4. Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

5. Five Questions on the Tucson, Ariz., Shootings for Psychologist Joel Dvoskin

6.  Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event – A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, AND TEACHERS

7. Psychological First Aid (PFA) for Students and Teachers: Listen, Protect, Connect – Model & Teach

8. Psychological First Aid for Teacher and Students

9. After a Loved One Dies – how children grieve and how parents and other adults can support them

10. School Crisis Guide: Help and Healing in a Time of Crisis

11. Practical Suggestions for Assisting Children in the Aftermath of a Tragedy

12. Teacher Guidelines for Crisis Response 

13. Parent Guidelines for Crisis Response 

14. How Do People Respond During Traumatic Exposure?

15. Helpful Information During and After a Traumatic Event 

My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to those affected by this tragedy.

Dr. Deibler

Photo available at 123RF

The Sorrow of a Nation: Coping After Tragedy

Marla W. Deibler, PsyD

Marla W. Deibler, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and nationally-recognized expert in anxiety disorders and the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, including trichotillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding, and tic disorders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia in New Jersey, an outpatient facility specialized in providing evaluation and evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral therapies for these and other difficulties. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of OCD-NJ, the New Jersey affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). Dr. Deibler gained her formative clinical experiences at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Children’s National Medical Center, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. She gained specialized behavior therapy experience in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders at the nationally-recognized Behavior Therapy Center of Greater Washington. Dr. Deibler served as a clinician at the National Center for Phobias, Anxiety, and Depression. She also served as Director of Behavioral Sciences at the Temple University School of Dentistry and served on the clinical faculty at Temple University Schools of Medicine and Allied Health as well as Temple University Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Deibler has published scientific research in peer-reviewed journals and has presented clinical training seminars and research findings at national and international meetings. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, A&E’s “Hoarders”, TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive”, CBS News, ABC News, FOX News, It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle (CN8, Retirement TV), and CBS’s “Swift Justice with Nancy Grace”. She has been quoted by media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and the Connecticut Post, among others. Dr. Deibler holds licenses to practice psychology in New Jersey (Lic. No. 35S100438000) and Pennsylvania (Lic. No. PS0157790). She is an active member of the American Psychological Association, Trichotillomania Learning Center, International OCD Foundation, OCD-New Jersey, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Dr. Deibler resides in suburban Philadelphia with her husband (who is also a psychologist) and three children.

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APA Reference
Deibler, M. (2012). The Sorrow of a Nation: Coping After Tragedy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Dec 2012
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