My first glance at the morning news feed displays the headline beginning with “Tragedy”. I feel that immediate sick feeling in my stomach. It is going to be a sad day, especially for the lives that have just been changed forever. I open the story and begin reading. Seconds into the story, I know it will be a sad day. Did you have a similar response?
The tragic event is on every news and social media outlet. You venture out to begin your day and find everyone talking about it. Some people are clearly shaken, others are more philosophical. A few hours later, the theory of “three degrees of separation” comes into play as news surfaces that somebody knows someone whose cousin or sister was hurt or killed. (I’m writing from the perspective of observer and not as one directly impacted by the tragedy.)
Emotions are still strong as people begin to grieve, express anger, and plan to help in some way. Some theorize over good and evil, as well as how people are capable of such acts. After a couple hours elapse and we realize our daily deadlines haven’t changed. We know they demand our attention, but they seem trivial under the circumstances. We feel guilty as we pull away from the conversation and get to work. Yes, it is a sad day. But how can you possibly get anything done under these circumstances?
Personally, I’ve lived through too many sad days due to some senseless act of violence. My community has had more than our fair share. I used to think that suicide was the ultimate act of selfishness. Today, I believe it is premeditated murder. Innocent lives are shortened and loved ones and survivors are left to deal with the immediate aftermath and long-term ramifications.
So, how do you move on after tragedy? Since all of us appear to becoming experts, I thought it could be helpful to share some ideas. Here are my initial thoughts.
- Grieve: Tragedies involving loss require time to grieve. Without grieving, there can be no healing.
- Understanding: People handle tragedy differently so it is important to give people space by being sensitive to individual reactions.
- Clarity: Times of tragedy bring times of confusion. It is important to seek support in your family, friends, and faith.
- Focus: We still have responsibilities and people still depend upon us. Take some small steps.
- Community: Remember that you not only need other people, but someone else may need you. Be available to other people.
- Act: Do something to help the victims. Pray, donate, volunteer, encourage, appreciate, thank, etc.
- Intervene: Senseless violence is committed by disturbed individuals. The more we reach out to hurting, lonely, or even troubled people as appropriate to our skill, the better the opportunity to prevent these types of events.
The last thing we want to do is become numb and emotionless toward tragic events and the people who suffer at the hands of evil people. We no longer can assert,”Nothing like that could ever happen around here.” The safe utopia “around here” does not exist anymore.
Please share your thoughts about how you move forward amidst tragic events while not forgetting the past?