Trauma Guidance for Holocaust Survivors and Caregivers

Text following is from an email sent from The Blue Card.

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones in good health and safety.

Since October 7, 2023, we have been devastated beyond belief and our hearts are in pain.

I wanted to check in with you all and let you know that my thoughts are with you during these very difficult times. We, at The Blue Card, want to acknowledge the deep sadness and collective mourning for the loss of innocent Jewish lives caused by the terrorism of Hamas in Israel. In the past three weeks, we have witnessed the most significant tragedy in Jewish history since the Holocaust.

The barbaric slaughter and mutilation of babies, children, elderly Holocaust survivors, men and women on October 7, 2023 on ten kibbutzim on the Israeli border with Gaza and the killings of hundreds of attendees at a concert will be etched in our minds forever. For Holocaust survivors and descendants these images are more personally associated with the fate of our families. We pray now that the hostages are still alive and will be freed. We pray that Israel’s allies will provide the support necessary to eradicate threats of terrorists who want to annihilate Jews in Israel. May God give the leaders of Israel and the IDF the know-how and ability to bring peace and co-existence in Israel and its neighbors.

As we watch the continuing horrific events unfold in Israel, we feel tremendous amount of stress and trauma associated with consuming the news. This is especially traumatic for those of us who have family and friends in Israel.

Eva Fogelman

Dr. Eva Fogelman, renowned psychologist, author and filmmaker, and daughter of Holocaust survivors, shares the following tips to cope with these feelings:

Mental Health Tips from Dr. Eva Fogelman:

  • Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel the pain. It is okay to cry and scream.
  • Find individuals with whom to share your feelings about the current situation in Israel.
  • Maintain your daily routine – while these are a time of uncertainty, it is imperative to keep to routine which will give you a sense of control.
  • Be sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and stay hydrated. Getting physical activity is also helpful.
  • Have a structured plan for your day whether it includes grocery shopping, doing laundry or going to doctor’s appointments.
  • Staying connected with your loved ones – stay in contact with your family, friends, and neighbors and share your feelings and concerns. Maintain family and friend visits.
  • Staying in touch with religious leaders – this can be especially helpful during times of crisis – reach out to your local Rabbi or spiritual leader for guidance.
  • Limit your news intake – For Holocaust survivors, images on television of all the atrocities may be a trigger of flashbacks to one’s own suffering during the Holocaust. It is best to turn off your television and just follow the news by reading. If you cannot avoid watching the news, at any time you feel overwhelmed, please give yourself a break from the news. Excessive media consumption can increase anxiety, stress, and nightmares.
  • Seek professional help – the current situation in Israel is incredibly overwhelming and if you feel alone or hopeless, seek professional help. Speaking to a mental health professional can help you emotionally and psychologically.
  • If you are inclined to go to synagogue, continue going. If you have been attending a senior center continue participating in activities. It is emotionally supportive to be with other people. Spend an evening with neighbors rather than being at home alone.
  • You may consider contacting your Jewish Community Center for any volunteer opportunities to assist during the Israel-Hamas war.
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