No one can prepare for grieving.
Each instance, each circumstance, each person is different. But this past week, we had an opportunity to see one heart stopping event effect everyone in its very wide path.
I have sat with a heavy heart this week, one that dips a little lower each time I see a flag at half-staff. I have let the tears come, and found gratitude within the dark moments. But most of all I have observed how everyone is processing this one event.
Some cry and allow the tears to help them process. Some have wanted to feel closer to the tragedy. Some have gone numb, sick of hearing about it. Some have turned immediately to blame, regulations or pundits for explanation. Some grieve quietly, some angrily, some continuously.
Some have used it to grieve for unrelated wounds that have not yet healed. I’ve seen people cry fresh tears when they rethink about the fears they have for their own children’s safety.
Never has it been so clear that what determines how you feel is not the event itself, but how you choose to process that event.
How it links with you personally, your thoughts about its meaning and how it fits into your life. Never has it been so obvious that each individual has their own set of rules for how they react. No two sets of rules are the same, not even among the parents who lost a child in Newtown.
Simply no one is the same.
And there is so much beauty in that.
So much beauty in knowing that we are not hard-wired to automatically respond to an event in the same way, but we have control over what we feel and think about that event, no matter how tragic it is.
And as I went through this week, processing my own feelings, and observing others, I realized that this week has given us so much.
Gratitude for what we have now, and have had in the past.
Honor for those who come to the rescue in times of need.
Respect for precious life, love and family.
And an understanding that we cannot judge others for how they process an event, especially a tragic one, because that means we would have to judge the whole world.
And that, among other things, is exhausting.
So how are we alike?
What we all have in common is the ability to process our emotions.
Whether we decide to do it is, again, an individual difference. But each and every person that is grieving for these lost lives has the ability.
All we can do in a time like this is allow our own personal grieving process to take its course. No matter how long or short it is. Allow it without stirring the pot and introducing new fears to be sad about. Allow it even though it may mean showing the children in your life that you are sad about something that no one can explain.
We owe it to ourselves and to whomever may be watching and learning from us, to feel the pain and let it flow through us.
Because pain, especially like this, is not meant to be held onto.
Because letting the grief flow is the only way to feel better.
Because if you try to resist the grief in any way, it will only get worse.
There is work to do on the other side of pain. Work that requires a strong mind and a proactive, not reactive stance.
Whatever work that may be for you. Whether it is your own personal development, or activism on a global scale. It is too important to be blinded by unresolved pain. You are too important to build the stress that is created by not allowing emotions to come to the surface.
You are too important to the world.
You are too important to your community.
You are too important to yourself.
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