Originally published at www.griefrecoverywithrobin.com
Another school shooting, the18th one since Jan 1. Lives lost, hearts broken, families destroyed. How can anyone, especially a loved one, come to terms with such a horrific tragedy again?
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is where the school massacre took place. Parkland and Coral Springs are two beautiful suburbs in South Florida. The neighboring town of Coral Springs also has children going to the local Parkland High School. Coral Springs is where my parents and siblings lived for many years (I was already in college) and where the killer was staying. Both suburbs now have to deal with such horror, such sadness, and such incredible grief.
An old high school friend of mine and his wife were among the many parents who lost their children in February 14ths shooting. Hundreds of people have been expressing their heartfelt wishes toward my friend through Facebook, many of whom he does not know. Often, people whom have not been directly affected by such loss, feel the only way to help is by letting their friend know their thoughts and prayers are with them and their family. In my friend’s case, there has been an outpouring of Facebook comments from friends to people he had never met. Although words of kindness can be very supportive, it can also be unbelievably overwhelming.
Such a tragedy affects everyone. People ask how can anyone possibly get over the loss of a child? It is very important to know that many parents feel victimized at the end of another mass shooting. This is a tremendous loss that can last a lifetime. As with other feelings of victimization, this does not mean that the emotional pain of this loss needs to forever destroy their lives. Right now everything feels so raw, so impossible to imagine ever getting to a point where there will ever be a sense of normalcy again. It is so important to get to the point where the families of the victims can enjoy their fond memories of that relationship without always reliving that moment of the loss or always feeling they should not ever be happy again.
Everyone deals with grief differently. For many people, a loss like what happened on February 14th can bring up emotions from former losses, often unrelated to the recent loss itself. Grief not addressed will not go away, its power often takes control of all logical emotions.
It is incredibly important for the loved ones not to feel guilty about anything that they could have possibly done that might have changed the outcome. It is equally important not to feel guilty about going back to some type of normalcy again. It is also okay not to cry every time they think of their loved one. People tend to feel they have to feel sad every moment, or else they are somehow not honoring their loved ones memory. There is absolutely no wrong way to grieve. As a friend of the family going through such a tragedy, it is okay to grieve as well. Be careful not to put your grief on the family grieving. Remember to listen with your heart, not your head. Don’t try to analyze, judge or advise the direct grievers. The grievers might not want to talk to anyone or they might want to talk to everyone, both are correct. It is also very important, as someone who wants to comfort the grievers, not to take anything personally. Grievers are very caught up in how to deal with their own grief and it is important to let them do so. There is no time limit on grief. Time goes by and friends tend to think that things should be better but they might not be. Be very sensitive to any comments made to the grievers. Well-intentioned friends might say the wrong thing, thinking they are saying the right thing.
Remember, a mass shooting like what happened on February 14, 2018 can affect thousands of people, like a wave having a ripple effect on the ocean. No one should judge anyone on his or her level of grief toward any tragic situation, whether directly affected or not.
Every one has a right to grieve.
Robin Gensburg is a Grief Recovery Specialist, trained through The Grief Recovery Institute.
The Grief Recovery Institute is an internationally recognized program, established in the mid 1980’s. It has been guided by a primary principle, to deliver grief recovery assistance to the largest number of people in the shortest period of time.