Processing tsunami memories can help


On Boxing Day, ten years have passed since the tsunami in Southeast Asia. This disaster touched many Finnish people deeply. Many lost their loved ones in the disaster, and many were in danger themselves.

On the coming anniversary, the tsunami events are largely covered by the media. Past experiences may be brought back to mind. This is completely natural.

It is not dangerous that the thoughts and feelings related to the memories come back. It is also not indicative of not recovering from the experience. If anything, it is the opposite.

It is said that time heals all wounds. Time passing does not have a healing impact in itself. The significance of time is manifested by the fact that as time passes, the events come back to mind only every now and then. They linger for a moment, and then something else comes to mind.

Thinking about a shocking event is called processing the experience. It is important. With it, we gain distance to the experience and controlling it becomes easier and less overwhelming. Let memories and the thoughts and feelings connected to them come, and linger in them. Talking about them to people close to you helps with the recovery.

For some, the experiences from the tsunami are still very painful. If they still bring flashbacks and very strong feelings, seeking outside crisis help is recommended. Even if it has been ten years, the mind might be ready to process the experiences only now. It is never too late.

In particular, the children and young people who experienced the tsunami may still have unprocessed things on their mind. Profound processing of such shocking experiences requires the psyche of an adult. Even if the experience has been discussed in childhood and children have seemingly recovered well, those experiences may now require a completely different processing. Listen to yourself openly, and if you feel a need for processing, go ahead.

Salli Saari

Crisis psychologist, director of the Red Cross psychologist preparedness group.