In light of recent and increasing numbers of catastrophic events, it’s important to recognize that every individual will have a different, organic response to tragic change.
Sudden change is often riddled with doubt, fear, and grief. There will be a lot of “Why?” questions in these situations, and we must realize that there’s always fear present in loss. Thus, fear in loss is the first stage of grief.
In change and transition, the first stage is letting go. Processing the “letting go” is not going to happen overnight simply because the tragedy happened suddenly. Responding and reorienting take time.
In traumatic change, the question of “Why?” is not always answerable. When you’re looking for solace, whatever answer comforts you is what you hold on to. What you need to let go of are the thoughts that you could have prevented a tragedy—that it could have been, but wasn’t, you.
Change of tragic magnitude, even without loss of life, mirrors the experience of death. There’s a death of innocence, a death of security, a death of what you know. Things are one way one day, and then the next day they’re different. This is true sudden change.