9/11 was scary. There was a time when people would ask, “Where were you on 9/11?” and they would share their stories of fear, horror, and how that fateful day changed them forever.
Often the people who are best at helping with fears are people who work with children. Mister Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
I owned Concordia Consulting on 9/11, and I was working from home that day. In the morning, I went for a regularly scheduled chiropractic appointment, and when I asked my chiropractor, Dr. Tedesco, why she was still holding appointments, she said rather unremarkably, “We don’t know what is happening, or what is going to happen. I help people feel better, and when life is spinning out of control, I think normalcy, even the pretense of normalcy is helpful.” Her calm and gentle words stayed with me.
On April 16, 2007, I was conducting a program on the day of the Virginia Tech massacre. The group had taken a break for lunch and when we checked our phones, we heard the terrifying news. I grew up seven miles from Virginia Tech and many of my friends and relatives worked on the campus. I was shaken to say the least.
I remembered what Dr. Tedesco said and I gathered myself and came back for the remainder of the program. I offered that the participants might want to share a few moments of communal silence, which we did. We agreed that those who needed to leave to check on loved ones should leave, yet most of the participants stayed. We finished the program.
I hope we will all be safe and our loved ones, our friends, and our colleagues will be well and safe. I hope you will never need to remember these words, but just in case.
We don’t know where we will be if and when tragedy strikes, but if you find yourself at work, there are ways that you can be helpful and bring calm to your colleagues.
We can’t control tragedies. What can we do if a tragedy occurs while we are at work?
First, get everyone to safety.
Bringing people together at times of fear and upheaval is always a good idea.
Returning to routine helps people feel grounded and safe.
Allowing each person to grieve and feel fear in their own way is important.
May you always be a helper.