Like almost everyone, I have felt deeply upset in the past few days by the massacre in Paris. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased. My thoughts are also with those who witnessed the tragedy and survived, including police officers and paramedics.
I wonder how many of the bereaved, how many of the witnesses, have returned to work already. I wonder how many of them have felt able to carry on as normal in the aftermath of Friday’s events. How many will soon return to changing nappies, taking the children to school and washing and dressing every morning? How many will enter the turmoil of a prolonged spell of trauma?
Psychological trauma takes many forms. Its symptoms include shock, disorganisation, difficulty concentrating, difficulty trusting others, difficulty sleeping, spells of anguish and despair. It is often the result of a person being unable to move on from a horrendous experience.
Unfortunately for millions of people who experience trauma, life is unforgiving. Not all employers grant time off; not all families pull together and help each other through tragic events. Paris is a rich place, where many people live happy and comfortable lives; but that is no consolation to the thousands of survivors who will, right now, be dealing with the contingent practical and emotional consequences of the massacre.
Almost all bereaved relatives and witnesses to the massacre will find some way of carrying on. But some will not. Some will never quite move on from anxiety, sleeplessness and sheer grief.
My thoughts are with all those affected by the massacre. Talk to each other, love each other and get well soon.