When I read about what happened in Aurora, Colo., last
Friday morning, I was stunned. The man who walked through the side door of that
movie theater and opened fire graduated from high school the same year I did.
The people in the audience, the victims, were doing something I’d done the
weekend before—just going to the movies. And now 12 people are dead, and dozens
more are injured, many still in the hospital recovering, just because they went
to the movies.
It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Knowing that you can be
going about your normal life one moment, and the next, everything can change
with the fizz of an incendiary device or the pop of a gun. Life is dangerous.
Whenever something like this happens, whether it’s a shooting or a plane crash
or a devastating fire, we hear the statistics: You’re more likely to die in an
automobile accident than in incident like this. You’re more likely to get hurt
crossing the street than be caught in the crossfire. Still, we worry. Still, we’re
paralyzed by fear.
That’s the thing about terrorism and tragedies: They shake
you to your core. You don’t want to keep going about your life per usual
because you can’t bear to imagine what could possibly happen next. The what-ifs
overwhelm reality. You cry, you panic, you call every single person you love
just to make sure they’re OK, just to make sure they know you love them. I
know. I do it, too.
The thing is, we’re all in this together. Let’s get through
this together. Here’s how I’m coping. Share your stories and tell us how you’re
hangin’ in there in the comments.
In. Out. And again, until your heart rate slows, the tears
recede and the panic stops clouding your mind.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m confronted with
something this horrifying, I go into research mode. I dig for facts until I
know everything…and then the tragedy and how it happened is all I can think
about. Knowing what happened is good. But when you know too much too soon, to
the point that it overcomes every other thought in your mind, it’s time to step
away from the Internet or the newspaper and gain some space.
Retreat to something
Sometimes preoccupation is a good thing. When tragedy
strikes, sometimes it feels like you will never smile again, never laugh, never
be happy—after all, why should you be when so many are devastated? Even if it
doesn’t feel like you deserve it, know that you do, and do whatever you can to capture
those feelings. Throw yourself into an activity that always lets you forget the bad things going on around you. And let
yourself escape, just for a little while.
Or maybe, as normal as you can be. For those whose lives
were physically touched by this tragedy, past tragedies or tragedies to come, “normal”
is shattered. But for those of us on the periphery, who can return to our
routines, I think we owe it to ourselves to do that. Don’t act like nothing has
happened. But be brave enough to enjoy life despite the what-ifs. Change the
negatives, the things you did but never enjoyed. And embrace your ability to
keep choosing to live life to its fullest.
Talk it out
Once you can think about what happened rationally, it might
be time to say the things you’ve been thinking. Find a friend or counselor
or family member to whom you can really talk, who won’t fly off the handle or be
offended if you say something off-color, and just let it out. Talk about why
you think it happened, what you think the consequences should be, what you
would have done in that situation. And if no one is there when you need to talk
at three o’clock in the morning, flip on the light, grab your journal and start
Spread the love
Are you feeling alone? Yeah, I know the feeling. Take heart,
hunnie—you’re not alone. Everyone around you is grieving in their own way, even
if they don’t talk about it or show it. If you need support, ask for it. And if
you have a hunch that someone else is hurting inside, lend them a shoulder.
Kindness is the biggest gift you can give anyone, and when something like this
happens, everyone needs it.
Tell me, babes: What
did you think when you heard about the Aurora shooting? How are you handling
BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 7/23/2012 6:33:00 PM
POSTED IN dealing with depression, dealing with death, dealing with tragedy, fear, In the News, advice