Dealing with Tragedy

  • Keep busy. Focus on your projects and classroom assignments. Research indicates keeping focused on day to day required tasks or routines helps mitigate the effects of stress.
  • Seek out persons who care for and support you. Share your reactions, thoughts and how the experience impacted you.
  • Know that the reactions to trauma described are normal responses to a very abnormal experience. They occur in varying degrees of severity and type for each person.
  • "Baby yourself" - eat well, get your sleep, and do nurturing things.
  • Express your feelings with your art. Drawings, poetry etc. are all healthy ways to manage the feelings related to trauma.
  • Consider writing a journal of your experience or feelings.
  • Seek to gain perspective on the experience through meditation, reading, spiritual refection, etc.
  • Consider sending cards or emails of support to those most impacted. Helping others often is the healthiest way to manage our own feelings of powerlessness.

You may experience some of the symptoms below - this is normal.

  • Shock: often the initial reaction to events like this. Shock is the person's emotional protection from being too overwhelmed by the event. You may be stunned, numb, or in disbelief.
  • Suffering: this is the period of grief during which the person gradually comes to terms with the reality of the event/loss. Feelings that life is overwhelming and disorganized are common.
  • Sadness: The most common feeling found following traumatic events like this. It may become quite intense and be experienced as emptiness or despair.
  • Anger: Can be one of the most confusing feelings for the grieving person. Anger is a response to feeling powerless, frustrated, or even abandoned.
  • Anxiety: Ranges from mild insecurity to panic attacks. Grievers may become anxious about their ability to take care of themselves, or fear a similar event will happen to them or a loved one.

It's good to talk about it

Consider seeking counseling if your reactions are prolonged or significantly impact your functioning. You may also find this brief handout on grief helpful if you or someone you know has suffered a recent loss.

When grief does not go away

It’s normal to feel sad, numb, or angry following a loss. But as time passes, these emotions should become less intense as you accept the loss and start to move forward. If you aren’t feeling better over time, or your grief is getting worse, it may be a sign that your grief has developed into a more serious problem, such as complicated grief or major depression. Please Contact the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness or another professional counselor if you feel stuck, or if you or anyone you know begins to feel like life isn’t worth living or wishes for death.

Counseling Center

91 St. Clair Street

Contact us for an appoinment.


HWS Employees and their family members can arrange counseling through the Employee Assitance Program. Participants' right to privacy is fully protected by law and the Colleges' EAP policy. Employees may contact the EAP at (315) 789-2613, toll free 1-877-789-2613, visit their website or contact Human Resources for related literature.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.