Whatever you’re feeling right now is okay.
Don’t tell someone how to grieve, or if they’re allowed to feel sad today.
Tragedy affects us all in innate ways.
Whether you heard the gun shots ring out from the floor below in Vegas this week; if you’re one of the families coming to grips with the loss of a loved one who was amongst the crowd when the terror erupted; or you woke to news stories unfolding like horror films on your feed from the other side of the world – your grief is valid.
Mass shootings affect us all in profound ways.
Suddenly we feel vulnerable, at threat, like our safe spaces have been breached. Our spirits are challenged. Our capacity for resilience is put to the ultimate test.
Some of us feel nothing.
A strange numbness that compels us to go through the motions of continuing to live as if stuck in some odd dreamlike trance.
Others drown in pain.
Rage, hopelessness and despair tear at our hearts and pull us deep into the dark waters of suffocating emotion that makes it near impossible to move, speak, eat or sleep. All we can do is exist.
Some of us obsess.
We need to know every detail. To read about it, watch it and discuss it. Who died. How they died. Who was injured. What their names were. What brought them to their horrific fates. What it felt like – to see it all up close in that nightmarish moment.
We think if we can study it from every angle, perhaps we’ll find the missing puzzle piece; the question gnawing at the back of all of our brains: why do these things continue to happen?
And some of us smile and continue on.
Because we don’t know how to stop and let the reality of it all sink in like a lead weight crushing at our sternums.
So instead we hold our loved ones a little tighter and a little longer. We pray. We text our friends to let them know we’re grateful for them. We walk a little slower to work and take in the first rays of sunlight creeping over the shiny hoods of the morning traffic. And we breathe it all in and remember how fragile life is; how lucky we are to be here right now.
There’s no right way to react in moments like these; moments that challenge everything we think and feel. Everything we thought we knew.
But there is a right way to process it.
Talk about how you’re feeling. Seek therapy. Lean on loved ones for support. Don’t try to do it alone.
Because while grief is deeply personal, its antithesis is universal.
And that’s love.
If you need to speak to someone about how you’re feeling today, head to griefspeaks.com to find a counseling service in your area.