The mass murder of school children and adults last week in Connecticut stunned us all. Why did this violence occur? While we don’t know the specifics of the shooter’s mental health, we know we live in a culture that encourages, glamorizes, and desensitizes us to violence through multiple media outlets. Our movies, TV programs, video games, music, and internet expose us and our children to more violence than ever before. The American Psychological Association has reported through significant research that violence in the media does correlate with violent behavior, but nobody is listening.
There is no way to ever understand the anguish of the families of the victims from this tragedy. There are no words to describe the pain nor grasp the magnitude of suffering felt by those left behind in the wake of this incredible catastrophe. How do they cope with such grief and eventually move towards healing? One day at a time, one hour at a time, and maybe even one minute at a time. This is a time when faith is either tested or the only thing that keeps you going. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross defined five stages of grief which include: denial/shock, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Initial numbness and shock are our body’s way of letting in only what we can handle at that time. Everyone grieves differently and experiences emotional pain uniquely. It is important to allow yourself to process the grief in some way.
The expression “time heals all wounds” is just not true. Time can help, but some wounds are so horrific and deep that they will require professional help and support. Some people prefer to write or journal about their grief, others prefer direct conversations, while others choose to keep it inside. Holding emotions inside never works and probably contributed to this destructive act. Pain is typically underneath anger and some people who never address the pain instead displace their rage. Healing comes from constructively confronting your pain, connecting with friends and family, relying on faith, helping others, getting back to your routine, seeking counseling, and eventually letting go.
Life is so precious and we never know when it might be cut short. Decide today to love on your family and value those relationships. I pray for the families, friends, teachers, first responders, community, and our nation as we all grieve the devastating loss of those 27 people. Next week I will discuss changes that our nation can make to limit the incidence of violence.