Ways to Respond After a Mass Shooting
I didn’t know quite how to respond on Sunday after the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub. I was shocked that yet another shooting occurred in our country and so many lives were lost. I couldn’t believe that it happened at a Gay nightclub. Really? We still have this intolerance and judgement about who people love. Then the questions started rolling through my mind relentlessly.
Why is it so easy for people to get assault rifles? Didn’t anyone see this coming? Is anyone safe anywhere anymore? And then I started watching and listening to all the news coverage. It only made me more numb or more angry, or both.
Finally, on Wednesday, it hit me. I was just sad. At first I didn’t connect everything. Maybe I was just tired from a hard workout at the gym and not enough sleep. But then I realized that on some level I had been avoiding feeling the pain of the shooting.
No, I don’t anyone who was affected. But I started thinking about all of the families and friends of those who were killed. About how they are going to wake up every day for the rest of their lives and their loved one won’t be there. The news cycle will move on, but their loss remains. I started feeling helpless. What can I do? I could donate money, donate blood and repost things on Facebook and Twitter. But what can I really do?
So I took the dog for a long walk. It was a beautiful summer morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the sky was filled with lovely puffy clouds. Still this feeling of sadness remained. It kept rolling over me like a tidal wave.
But it is totally normal for us to feel pain after something as tragic as this. We are human and we empathize with those around us. It is our capacity to feel and care that creates our connections with each other.
But how can we keep from getting overwhelmed? Here are some tips for you:
- Limit your exposure to media coverage of tragic events. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests limiting how much time you watch coverage of the event. Continuous watching creates feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
- Talk to someone about your feelings. Telling someone your feelings and letting them out helps you let go of them and return to the present. It is perfectly normal to feel any or all of these emotions: anger, sadness, shock, disbelief, guilt and helplessness.
- Get outside. Spending time in nature is a beautiful way to heal. Feeling the sun and wind on your face, hearing the sounds of birds singing and taking in beautiful vistas allows your entire being – body, mind and soul – to take a break and return to yourself in the present.
- Make a choice. It is easy to get caught up in the discussions of what is right and wrong about gun control, whose fault this was and who we can blame. After you walk down that path for a while you realize it doesn’t solve anything.
- Decide to take action in your own sphere of influence.
- Treat every encounter with another human being as a sacred moment.
- Look the other person in the eye. Really listen to them.
- Acknowledge their humanness as important as your own.
- Look beyond any differences you see.
Beyond the apparent separateness is our shared humanity. Focus on that and your world becomes more peaceful.
There are no easy answers when senseless tragedy occurs. We are all in this together. Take care of yourself and honor those around you. Peace is created one accepting smile at a time.
If you want to talk about this trauma or anything else in your life that you need some support with, call me today at 303-794-7761 for a FREE phone appointment.
I look forward to speaking with you.