Choosing Joy, Love, and Peace after Tragedy
Admittedly this was going to be a very different post, but in light of the recent mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino, CA, I just had to write about finding happiness in the wake of these tragedies we are hearing about all over the world.
This is a personal post for me to write as well, as I want to be completely honest with you - I’m struggling a bit on how to do this gracefully, but I’m slowly moving forward, choosing joy, love, and peace, and I’ll tell you how.
This tragedy hit very close to home for me. This is my community, this was a place that I had frequented for meetings in a previous job, this was a conference room that I sat in, and these were people that I worked closely with in the past.
I was all gung-ho with Christmas spirit, and shopping happily for family and friends when a woman stopped me in the store to tell me about what had taken place, and I immediately lost every bit of joy from my being. I sat in my car and wept. I then went through the rest of my day in a haze, and was glued to the TV and Internet, listening for details about how this could have possibly happened in my backyard.
I didn’t sleep well the night I heard the news, and was hoping that waking up the next morning would mean it was just a bad dream, but turning on the TV, I realized in fact that it was true. I then inundated myself with more media coverage, trying to piece things together, and find understanding about what it was that could lead these people to take innocent lives.
After hearing the same story be told in various different ways, with no definitive answer about a motive I realized, I’ll never know, and I’ll never fully understand. Regardless of what the media reports the motive was for this couple to commit this horrible act, it will never be good enough, and I will never be able to completely wrap my head around it.
What I can wrap my head around, and what I can understand are the 300 law enforcement officers who responded in the aftermath of this tragedy. I understand the thousands gathering for a candle light vigil, the hundreds of thousands of prayers for victims and their family members, the hundreds of people rushing to give blood to help the wounded, and the countless fundraising campaigns popping up all over the internet to help support the families of the victims.
I understand because I know there is good in the world. I understand because I am choosing to see the love that exists surrounding a tragedy like this.
I have a choice to push past fear and anxiety, and choose to be present with my children, family and friends. I’m not denying the sadness that I feel when I think about those who lost their lives, and I’m not denying the overwhelming grief their families are feeling right now, or that I’d be feeling had I lost a loved one in this horrific way. All of that exists. I’m also not denying that larger changes need to happen, but I’m not getting into any political debates, because I don’t pretend to have the answers.
The couple responsible for this terrible event is made up of 2 people. Their intent was to rob people of their lives, of their joy and happiness, and create a sense of terror. That was their wish, and I have chosen not to let them succeed, and I urge you to do the same. In order to reduce and manage my distress I am doing the following:
I’m allowing myself to experience my emotions when I feel them, going from shock to sadness, to anger and grief.
I am recognizing that my difficulty sleeping and concentrating are temporary. On the way out of the store after hearing the news, I dropped a bag filled with breakable items – the cute Christmas plates I had bought were shattered, and although I cursed myself in the moment, I understand that my butterfingers were a common side-effect of hearing the shocking news.
I’m surrounding myself with family and friends, and talking about how I’m feeling in the aftermath of all of this.
I’m turning off the news. Although I want to stay informed of the investigation, and want to be sure that there are no other safety threats, it just becomes the same thing over and over, and keeps me stuck in negative feelings.
I’m practicing being present. I’m hugging my children a little tighter, sitting on the floor playing, and looking into my baby’s eyes. I’m savoring the moments that really matter, and loving just a little bit harder.
I’m continuing my regular routines, eating healthy, and taking care of myself. I love a good workout, and I’m using that to decompress and lessen the stress I’m feeling in my body.
I’m dedicating my meditation and yoga practices to feeling more love, and I’m spending time praying for all involved.
I understand that I can control the way I parent and teach my children to show love, honor and respect for others in hopes of creating a brighter generation.
I’m choosing joy, love, and peace. I hope you will too.
*If you are experiencing grief as a result of this tragedy and don’t feel you are able to get back to your daily functioning, and as though your emotions are very intense, it’s time to get help. Reach out to a mental health professional that can assist you with moving forward. I am also available for a consultation and am happy to help you find a suitable therapist or counselor.