A natural disaster like a tornado is traumatic in more ways than one and can take a while to heal from. A tornado can leave you with emotional and physical damage, like downed trees and destroyed property, to name only a few issues. While you and your family may be prepared to manage the practical aspects of clean-up and repair, the emotional component can take more time, making it difficult to take on the tasks at hand.
As you assess the damage from a tornado, remember to take care of yourself physically and mentally, and know that it’s OK to ask for and accept support — whatever support feels like for you — as you recover from this natural disaster.
What to Do if You Weren’t Home When the Tornado Came
If you were away from home during a tornado, it's important to emotionally brace yourself to return home once it’s safe to do so, as it could be a trying experience.
Knowing this, it's a good idea to stay in contact with your support system, before you go home and when you get to your house. Keep your loved ones aware of your situation and abreast of any updates, so that they can support you effectively.
Coping Physically After a Loss From a Tornado
As you work to assess the physical property damage done by the tornado, keep your physical health in mind, too. If you did not require emergency care after the tornado, call your doctor if you were at all injured during the tornado — it’s better to be on the safe side, even with minor scratches.
If you weren’t physically injured, seeing your home and property in disarray is still understandably stressful, and stress takes its own toll on your body. Additionally, the clean-up process can impact your health, especially if you have preexisting or chronic health conditions like asthma, an anxiety disorder or heart disease. Take as many breaks as you need to so that you can feel safe and grounded.
Cleaning Up Your Home
As you clean up property damage, take steps to be sure you’re supported physically, like:
- Cleaning up spilled or flammable liquids and other hazardous materials
- Inspecting the damage before you begin
- Taking breaks when you need to rest
- Wearing sturdy shoes or boots
- Wearing gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands and skin
As part of taking care of your physical health during your clean-up efforts, remember to take your medications just like you normally would. To restore a sense of normalcy, practice any other routines that are important for your well-being, like taking some time for reflecting or stretching. Reach out for help when you need it (like if you need someone to pick up your prescriptions, for example) and make sure you have an emergency health plan in place.
Finding Emotional Support After a Loss From a Tornado
Coping with any kind of loss from a tornado is understandably upsetting, and can make you feel overwhelmed and vulnerable, but you’re not alone. Other people in your area may have experienced the same or similar circumstances or perhaps lived through a tornado before in another area.
Connecting with other people who have experienced the aftermath of a tornado can be healing and cathartic. Look for an online support group for natural disaster survivors and make it a point to connect with them regularly. Friendships formed over common ground, even disasters like a tornado, can provide the strength and endurance you need to move forward.
It’s OK to Ask for and Accept Help to Heal After a Loss From a Tornado
As you find and connect with people who can empathize with your situation, your friends and family members may also ask how to support you during this time. Even something as simple as a phone call with a faraway friend can lift your spirits.
Everyone processes trauma differently, and your support network is here to see you through. It’s normal and natural to need extra support after a disaster like a tornado. And whatever that support looks like for you, know that you’re allowed to lean on the people you love during this time.
Here for You and Your Loved Ones
At AdventHealth, we’re dedicated to caring for you and the people you love, physically, mentally and spiritually — both every day and especially after a natural disaster. You can count on our team to help heal what hurts with expert-level medical care and also to lift your spirit, in as many little ways as we can.