Communal Grief After Mass Shootings April 11, 2019

Communal Grief

It seems over the past few decades our news feeds have been filled with tragedy on a large scale.  Mass shootings such as Columbine, Newtown and Parkland unfortunately have become a part of the modern landscape.  It seems as soon as one fades from the media it is not long before there is more breaking news about another mass shooting or public murder. Each time it seems to get closer and closer and creates an air of anxiety over the idea that it could happen to you or someone you love.

The pure devastation of the family and friends of the victims is inconceivable and something most would not wish on their worst enemy. When something so earth shattering happens to you, surely emotions ranging from denial, anger, fear, to pure emotional pain is a given. For those who are directly affected, it may not be possible to go back to life as normal. Experiencing long term grief, fear and even PTSD is not uncommon.

How do we as a society grieve these experiences. We may not know anyone who was killed. We may not have to deal with our loved child being gone forever. Yet we are still affected and grieve as well.

When a mass shooting or other public death or murder occurs we as the public will have a wide range of emotions that will be experienced. When these tragedies occur they are covered extensively on the news media. There is a constant stream of information that can bring up the many emotions time and time again. Something as simple as sending your children off to school can cause extreme anxiety and fear.

How to Deal with Communal Grief

If you are struggling with communal grief in relation to any of the tragedies that play out in the media and affect your feeling of safety, there are a few things to do to help deal with those feelings:

  • One of the best things to do is to talk about it with someone. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, we all need to express feelings of fear and insecurity. Talking it out and expressing the fear you have may make you realize that others feel the same as you. There can be comfort simply in getting your thoughts out and knowing that others are feeling the same.
  • Turn the tv or your phone off. We are bombarded with media and information, the majority of which focuses on the negative side. The constant stream of info can be overwhelming and can increase the intensity of the feelings of grief. Take a break from all the “breaking news”.
  • Let yourself feel your feelings. Just because you are not directly related to any of the victims does not mean that you should not have any feelings about it. Your feelings are valid and show that you are human. Take the time to honor your feelings and not just blow them off.

In the time we live in, there is so much out there that can bring us to a place of anxiety, fear and grief. But by using the tools above, you can start to learn healthy ways to deal with communal grief.

How have you been affected by the mass shootings and violence often seen in our world? Please comment below.

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