As the country has watched in grief and horror the unfolding events of the Arizona shootings, I am reminded of the many ways in which grief touches our lives. Even living far from these events, one cannot help but be sensitive to their trauma; to the unsettling and unanswered “why” that will forever ring out.

If your own loss is colored by a violent act, a sudden and completely life changing loss, a moment of innocence shattered, you may find yourself slingshot back into the depths of your darkest hours. Your own grief experience may bubble up as if completely new, raw and unmanageable. This is a time to be particularly gentle and kind with yourself.

Perhaps something else in these events touches you deeply. It may not be the losses, but the grief of being the survivor or the grief of waiting with someone who is gravely ill or injured in a life-changing way. It may call up a community grief; something from the past that is part of your own community’s collective experience, memory or loss.

All of the emotions connected to life’s experiences are a form of bereavement. For the life of any individual is touched by many different kinds of losses. It is not just the loss of a loved one that can break open our hearts and call us into a new way of being.

As you notice your own range of emotions around this event, consider healthy responses that give your feelings room to move

  • Spend time in the company of children
  • Schedule a playful activity that you enjoy
  • Play with color; whether it be quilting, painting, drawing or a full box of crayons the color can offer healing self-expression
  • Connect with someone dear to you; have coffee, share a meal and rest in the comforts of relationships with trusted friends
  • Honor your need for silence; walk a labyrinth, take a hike, spend time in solitude