"Find family and friends to communicate your thoughts and feelings about this tragedy," said Stacey Rosenkranz, a cognitive behavioral psychologist in Harrison. "Don't try to deny them or bottle them up."
Listening is also key, added Michelle Maidenberg, president and clinical director of Harrison-based Westchester Group Works (she also has a private practice). She said there are a range of emotions people are experiencing, everything from rage to empathy to concern and you need to let yourself experience them.
"This happened so suddenly and is so brutal and traumatic," she said. "This man was a cop, a father, someone who's job was to take care of people, so people are having a hard time wrapping their head around it. We still have so many unanswered questions."
And it's those questions that can haunt a person -- why did this happen, how did this happen, what could I have maybe done to stop it.
It's why Diana Schaefer, a clinical social worker/ psychotherapist in private practice in Port Chester said rituals are so important.
Wakes and funerals help us go through the grieving process together and memorials, where kids make mini shrines with candles and memories, help give a person some sense of control over something that is so awful and incomprenhensible, she said.
All three experts stress the importance of maintaining a normal routine and structure as a way to cope.
"Should your grief, sadness, anger, or anxiety start to interfere with your ability to function effectively, seek professional help," stressed Rosenkranz. "Take care of yourself."
Lastly, given how intimately this tragedy will impact other Harrison High School students, Rosenkranz encouraged parents to talk to their teens, answer their questions, provide reassurance, and recognize if their teen is struggling at a level where they need to reach out for expert care.
It's all about feeling your feelings, she said.
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