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Counseling for the Healing of Memories of Tragedy

Margit Cathrine Moller

Something in the news lately caught my attention and moved me to focus on tragic memories. It was a special report by a CNN reporter about the rising incidence of suicide in post-tsunami Japan. Given that the Japanese culture is known for its attitude towards suicide as an honorable and dignified option, I still think that it will be such a waste of life if people are not helped in recovering from tragic memories.

Most of the news these days are about the 9-11 event. There are features about how survivors have recovered, and there is one thing in common: the need for someone to talk to.

A painful memory burns in our mind every day. If it is not healed, it continues to affect our mental and physical health. Some people believe that time will heal all wounds, but when healing tragic memories, they're probably in for a very long wait. Sometimes, just the guilt of being able to survive while loved ones perish is difficult to overcome.

In the recovery process, counselors help survivors:

a. Narrate their story in a manner
b. Experience catharsis
c. Find meaning in the experience
d. Experience forgiving the self
e. Create a recovery path