NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s common for people to feel anxious or depressed in the moments after a traumatic event, but what happens weeks or even months later?
It’s been six and half months since the Covenant School shooting, and according to experts, painful, complicated emotions can linger.
Even on a calm lake for some, there’s something that pulls them in – anxiety and fear – and if you’re feeling these emotions, you’re not alone.
“You drop a pebble in the water and you see the ripples of impact, and incidents like the one at The Covenant School reverberate deep into a community,” explained Amy O’Neill, a consultant helping with an initiative put on by Tennessee Voices for Victims.
Shortly after the Covenant School shooting, signs of support, care, and love poured into the city, bringing thousands together.
“It’s a wonderful community. It’s a close-knit community; there is a real violation of safety and I think when we look at what trauma is, it’s that sudden violation of safety, and there’s this threat now that something horrible has happened,” explained O’Neill.
However, even months later, trauma can linger.
“Things sort of quiet down, either in the media or with that immediate attention coming to support people impacted, and that’s when a lot of times the grief and the permanence and the life changes sort of settle in and come to the top, and really I would say is when many people are beginning to go through their journey,” O’Neill said.
Tennessee Voices for Victims have been holding long-term recovery group sessions open to the public to help anyone trying to cope with the trauma.
“In addition to being a consultant, I’m also a survivor of the Boston Marathon Bombing, so I can tell you from personal experience that very much there’s this life before up until this moment,” O’Neill said. “We’re trying to figure out what life after is going to be like.”
Moving forward, O’Neill explained the importance of remembering what happened, learning from it, and honoring those who are still processing what happened.
“Victims often fear of being forgotten and by continuing the conversation and by working together with your community partners to talk about how are we going to support each other through the holidays that are upcoming, how are we going to talk about a year marker…and making that as inclusive as possible is important,” O’Neill said.