But Australian psychologist Jo Lamble says that’s perfectly natural and there’s no right way to respond to such a calamity.
“Mourning the death of people you’ve never met is ok,” she says.
“It’s ok to be upset, to be angry, or simply to have nothing to say at all. It’s all about feeling compassion – even from afar – and compassion is always a wonderful thing to possess no matter whom it’s directed towards.
“A common reaction to a situation like this is to experience fear mixed with anger. We can feel powerless but determined to stay strong.
“Allow yourself time to grieve, time to heal – the same way you would deal with the death of someone you knew.”
Jo says the best coping mechanism is to allow the waves of grief come and go in intensity.
She also recommends paying close attention to your children and how they are feeling about the tragedy.
“Allow yourself to feel the emotions and let them wash over you. Sit with your children and encourage them to talk about how sad they feel.
“Answer their questions honestly using age-appropriate language. Ask those around you who appear to be suffering if they are ok.”
While social media has a well-documented dark side, its upside is that it does allow people to grieve together, and to find a commonality in the way they are feeling, adds Jo.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement says listening and sharing experiences can normalise the grief journey. Not feeling alone is important.
ABC journalist Lisa Herbert, who wrote The Bottom Drawer Book: The After Death Action Plan, recommends the three steps below to help cope with grief.
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
We all get a bit cranky when we’re tired. When we don’t get enough sleep, it affects how we feel and how we manage our emotions. It can also impair our judgement and affect decision making
The influence of physical activity on mental well-being is now clear. Hundreds of studies have found exercise can enhance self-esteem, improve moods, reduce anxiety, and improve resilience to stress. A brisk walk or cycle can also tire us out, encouraging a better night’s sleep.
3. Eat well
The body of evidence linking diet and mental well-being has grown rapidly in recent years. We feel better when we eat a balanced diet incorporating things like cereals, vegetables and fruits, lean meat, dairy, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.