Every year on the third Sunday in November, people across the world unite to commemorate the World Health Organisation (WHO) World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
With the slogan “Remember. Support. Act”, this international day encourages us to remember those who’ve been killed or seriously injured as a result of road trauma, acknowledge the work of our emergency services, advocate for better support for road trauma victims and their families, and promote evidence-based road safety action.
This year, Injury Matters’ Road Trauma Support WA program has launched the Six Supportive Steps campaign to support Western Australians affected by a road crash in the lead-up to the holiday season.
There are practical, supportive steps that can help after experiencing road trauma; particularly in the lead-up to special events and the holiday season, which can bring different feelings for those who have experienced road trauma, including:
Remembering is an important step when supporting loved ones (or yourself) after a road crash. It’s helpful to remember the fun times and the happy moments and share the stories and the memories.
At the same time, remember it’s okay to feel loneliness, sadness, and grief. Happiness and bittersweet emotions are also very normal. They are part of healthy grieving.
Getting enough sleep, eating well and being physically active will have a big impact, so remember to take care of or support loved ones to take care of themselves.
Many people find it unsettling when they feel they’ve been coping quite well with their grief and suddenly feel like they’re not coping. Acceptance and patience are the key to allowing these feelings to come and go.
Recognise that it’s okay to feel sad, lonely, mad, happy, or positive. Acknowledge and identify these feelings and emotions.
Acknowledge the need to cry or show emotions, but also acknowledge the importance of grounding activities such as walking in nature or listening to music.
When it comes to events or occasions which might be difficult, stressful or cause anxiety, planning ahead is helpful. Make a list of occasions that might be difficult and think about possible coping strategies. This could include having a support person, attending events for short periods of time, or practising simple responses to social questions to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
For busy times of the year (such as the upcoming holiday season), be mindful of overscheduling or overstretching, both physically and mentally.
4. Take time
Taking time out to recharge, refocus and recentre is important, especially when grieving a loved one. Stop, take a breath and be still.
Make time for self-care every day – walk, read, watch a funny movie, or have a quiet cuppa. It really does help.
If events like birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas feel overwhelming after the loss of a loved one, take time to think about how to mark these occasions. Don’t be afraid to incorporate new traditions or take a low-key approach if that will help.
Feeling supported or being there to support others can help with anxiety or uncertainty, especially around holidays or special events.
Seek support or offer support to others by talking, messaging, or getting together to share feelings and memories. Feel comforted by shared rituals and traditions.
For emergency support, Lifeline WA (13 11 14) or Griefline (1300 845 745) are available 24 hours a day.
Taking some action, however small, can bring comfort in times of grief. Try to focus on things in your control rather than negative things that can’t be controlled.
Establish new normal. This might be continuing with existing rituals and traditions (especially for special occasions, birthdays, and holidays) or starting new traditions.
Embrace creativity. Drawing, painting, writing, cooking, or working in the garden can help express feelings and release emotions.
Get involved in the Six Supportive Steps Campaign
Download the Digital Resources Toolkit for useful social media posts, newsletter articles, eSignature, alongside media and blog content to show your support for those affected by road trauma this holiday season.