In honor of the new HBO max release, we’re taking a look at lessons The Fallout taught us about coping with trauma in the wake of a tregedy.

Written by: Grace Deasy – January 30th, 2022 9:47 pm pst

HBO max’s new release, The Fallout, is a film that follows the lives of teenagers as they deal with the after-effects of a school shooting. In her directional debut, Megan Park introduces us to a group of teenagers including main characters, Vada (Jenna Ortega) and Mia (Maddie Ziegler) to tell a story of navigating life while overcoming adversity. Let’s take a look at what the The Fallout audience has learned about the reality of dealing with trauma.

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It is normal to feel numb and not process emotions.

Often times in the wake of a significant tragedy, it can be hard to process your emotions in the initial stages of grief. The audience sees this in The Fallout through Vada’s initial response to the school shooting. She feels numb and emotionless, in a state of shock. It normalizes how difficult it can be to process feelings and come to terms with reality. The film normalizes that a true emotional response takes time, before healing can begin.

It is normal to resist seeking help.

When experiencing the lasting effects of trauma, seeking help through therapy is an amazing way to go through the healing process. As Vada processes her emotions, her parents (Julie Bowen and John Ortiz) decide to sign her up for a therapy session. She resists the idea of becoming vulnerable and confronting her emotions. Through Vada’s resistance, the movie tells the audience it is common for people to resist seeking help, as it can feel embarrassing and viewed as a weakness. By the end of the film, Vada embraces therapy and uses it as a tool for her own healing journey, normalizing how important it is to care for our mental health.

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It’s normal to feel distanced from loved ones.

Before the tragedy, Vada is a very cheerful, bubbly teen, who clearly has a great relationship with her parents, little sister Amelia (Lumi Pollack), and best friend, Nick (Will Ropp). After the shooting, Vada’s closest relationships started to dwindle. Her parents and little sister constantly were checking up on her, trying their best to be supportive and loving, but Vada felt they could not fully understand. She even felt distanced from her best friend Nick, who was also present at the shooting, so she established a new relationship with Mia Reed, who she had not spoken to prior. Through Vada’s relationships, The Fallout teaches us that amidst dealing with trauma, relationships with those closest to you will be challenged, and you may find connections with unexpected people.

It’s normal to feel “survivor guilt”.

After the tragedy, Vada and Nick wonder why they survived, as if there was a reason. This is commonly known as “survivor guilt”, where those who live through a life-threatening situation develop guilt as to why they lived. Most who deal with survivor guilt believe that they did not die for a reason and that they feel an obligation to make the most of it. However, The Fallout teaches us that the victims did not die for any reason, and no one is meant to die in a school shooting. We learn that survivor guilt is normal and almost inevitable.

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It’s normal to not have the motivation to change the world.

Along with survivor guilt comes grief. A lot of times in real-life tragedies, we see the the strong, willful people who start a movement and change the world. The Fallout showcases how everyone copes with grief in different ways. While Nick turns the tragic event into a push for societal change, Vada does not have that same motivation, and would rather grieve more internally. However, Vada’s way of coping does not diminish her strength. It is important to recognize our differences.

The Fallout is such an important film to watch not just to know how to deal with the trauma of a school shooting but to learn how to deal with any trauma you may encounter in your life. It is currently streaming on HBO Max.

Grace Deasy is a student at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Advertising and minoring in Digital Media Trends and Analytics. She is currently an intern at AfterBuzz TV and Better Together with Maria Menounos.

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