Coping With Disaster

Natural disasters deeply impact us. People often feel helpless or overwhelmed in the wake of their destruction. It can be tough to know how to cope, or how to help someone who has experienced this devastating loss.

This page provides resources for those who are looking for a way to deal with grief, for parents wanting to help their children cope, and for anyone wanting to reach out to those affected by natural disaster. 

  • For the Tough Times: Reaching Towards Heaven for Hope – When a tragedy or loss occurs, we are saddened and angry. And full of questions. How could God allow this? What good could God possibly bring from this? In these pages, Max Lucado searches for some answers. Along the way, he offers God’s peace and understanding that reaches beyond our circumstances. 
  • Recovering From Losses in Life – H. Norman Wright tackles tough issues such as the meaning of grief, blaming God, and learning how to express yourself and share your pain in times of loss.
  • How Can Pain and Suffering Be Good? – What happens when, in the wake of some apparently senseless tragedy, life seems meaningless and the future looks absolutely bleak?
  • Where is God in the Midst of All My Troubles? – Where is God? Does He know, or are my prayers heard only by the wall? Is He near, or somewhere distant, only watching? If you hurt enough to ask such questions, you deserve an answer.
  • Understanding and Coping with Trauma – Each person affected by trauma experiences his or her own unique reactions and symptoms.
  • Why Does God Allow Suffering? – The real question is not “Why doesn’t God do something?” It’s “How did the world get into such a mess in the first place?”
  • Parenting a Child Affected by a Traumatic Incident – As a counselor, I’m often asked how to talk with kids about tragedies such as the latest school shooting. Here are some strategies I offer in my practice for intentional and effective conversations about tragedy.
  • Parenting a Child affected by a Traumatic Incident – I was a first responder lending mental health support to kids rescued from Columbine High School. So when I hear of the latest school shooting, I feel sickened that another community has to cope with the aftermath.
  • Children and Grief: Helping Your Child Understand Death -Grief recovery specialist Joey O’Connor teaches how to explain the reality of death and terminal illness, answer questions in age-appropriate ways, and provide a sense of security amid disorienting events such as funerals.
  • Lord, Where Are You When Bad Things Happen? – Chaos, tragedies, broken relationships — how could a God who is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving allow these things?
  • How Can I Help My Child Cope With Disaster and Trauma? – You have to be prepared for ups and downs and emotional setbacks. Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to help your kids face their immediate situation with courage and confidence.
  • How Do I Handle My Child’s Questions About God in the Midst of Disaster? – Encourage your children to grapple with hard questions. You don’t have to know all the answers. You just have to be willing to engage.
  • How to Help Your Child Grieve – Death is an ever-present fact of life, yet even adults face it only with difficulty. Here are some tips to help your children through the grieving process.
  • Talking to Your Kids About Natural Disasters – We can’t control the natural disasters our families might face. But we can reassure our kids and address their fears, explaining how rare these events are and that we will do everything we can to keep them safe.
  • Making Sense of Tragedy – Brady Boyd, the senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, discusses the fatal shooting incident that occurred at the church in December, 2007, and the healing, forgiveness and restoration his congregation has experienced since.
  • Parenting in the Midst of Tragedy – Nothing will eliminate the pain that you or your children have suffered, but there are steps you can take to help your family face those circumstances with courage and confidence.
  • When You Don’t Know What to Say: How to Help Your Grieving Friends – Harold Ivan Smith guides others to responding with heart and shows tangible, meaningful ways to make a significant difference as one journeys through grief with someone they care about. 
  • How Can I Help My Child Cope With Disaster and Trauma? – You have to be prepared for ups and downs and emotional setbacks. Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to help your kids face their immediate situation with courage and confidence.
  • How Can Our Church Reach Out to Victims of Disaster and Trauma? – Effective ministry involves a willingness and an ability to enter into the feelings and experiences of other people. It’s important to realize that there is no quick and easy way to reach out to victims of natural disasters and other tragedies.
  • Understanding the Grieving Process – Everyone works through grief differently. Some are instantly devastated; others feel numb and disconnected. Some withdraw socially, while others reach out for support.
  • Helping Loved Ones Grieve – Watching someone you care about experience loss is inevitable. Knowing how to respond when it happens can make a memorable difference.
  • Seeking God in Hard Times – Psychologist Dr. John Townsend explores the idea that God allows suffering in our lives in order to help us grow spiritually, and points to Christ as the ultimate source of hope in dark times.

Ideas for Church Outreach to Victims of Trauma and Tragedy

How can our church minister most effectively to victims of disaster and trauma? I’m the pastor of a small congregation in a mid-size town. Over the past month our community has been devastated by a terrible flood. Many families in this area have endured the loss of their homes, interruption of work and school, loss of income, physical deprivation, and overwhelming anxiety about the future. What can we do as the Body of Christ to address some of these needs?

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Recovering Emotionally From a Traumatic Experience

How can I find healing from the effects of disaster and trauma? Over the past month our community has been devastated by a terrible flood. The impact to my family has included the loss of our home, interruption of work and school, loss of income, physical deprivation, and overwhelming anxiety about the future. Now that the immediate danger is past and our present needs have been provided for (we’re staying with family in another city), I’m beginning to realize that we’re going to be coping with the emotional and psychological effects of this disaster for a long time to come. Can you help me get a handle on that process?

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Helping Children Cope Emotionally After Traumatic Events and Experiences

How can I make sure that my children will recover from the emotional impact of disaster and trauma? I’m especially concerned about the long-term effects. Over the past month our community has been devastated by a terrible flood. The impact to my family has included the loss of our home, interruption of work and school, loss of income, physical deprivation, and overwhelming anxiety about the future. The immediate danger is past, but I realize that we’re going to be coping with the emotional and psychological effects of this disaster for a long time to come. How can I help my kids get beyond this traumatic experience?

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Talking to Children About Tragic Events

As a parent, how should I deal with my children when mass shootings, natural disasters, and other tragic events involving loss of life occur? Should I do my best to shield them from this information – an almost impossible task in the face of today’s constant news media cycle? Or should I try to talk to them about it?

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