Grappling with grief in the wake of a tragedy

Mourners leave a church service held nearby Sandy Hook Elementary.

How does one handle the news that 27 people were shot in an elementary school, 20 of whom were small children? Managing our feelings in situations like this can be confusing and overwhelming. How do we find any power when we’re powerless? How do we go on with our day-to-day lives when such a tragedy is unfolding so close to home? How do we act normally without fear of going to the movies or the mall or dropping off our kids at school?

The reality is that the answers have not been laid out for us. Many people anesthetize their discomfort — alcohol, food, TV and so on can provide a temporary numbing effect. Other people may go into avoidance mode and act like nothing has happened in order to cope. Some are hypersensitive to the tragedies of the world and plunge into a state of total depression.

There is no right or wrong way to feel when it comes to tragedy. But there are tools that can greatly guide you through your emotions and help you find power in a powerless situation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and deeply emotional about the shooting in Newtown, use these tools.



Step 1: Honor your feelings


If you avoid your feelings, they will come up at some point and in some form. Feelings live deep within our body. Often if they are denied, they may manifest in the forms of sickness, anger or fear. The first step in dealing with tragedy is to fully honor your feelings. If you need time alone, spend time alone. If you need to cry, cry. Sometimes it’s helpful to write about how you’re feeling. This step can be very cathartic, and it’s crucial to moving forward with grace.

Step 2: Set loving intentions

When people pass on in a tragic way, a fearful energy vibrates throughout the world. Everyone psychically picks up this energy. Whether you realize it or not, you’re directly affected. The only power we have in these situations is the power of loving intentions — meditation and prayer. Spend time in stillness by yourself or with loved ones. Come together to hold the energy of the situation. Send love and light to all the victims involved. For the next 30 days, commit to praying for their peace. (If you need help with meditation, you can visit www.gabbyb.tv for my free guided meditations.)



Step 3: Be kinder to everyone


At times like this, we must let go of all littleness and focus on what is real. Now more than ever, make the time to be with your loved ones. Hold them close and remind them of how much you care for them. Take time to connect with family and community. When tragedies like this happen, everyone feels it on a visceral level. The only way for us to raise the energy of our nation is to bring in more love immediately. Fear and chaos cannot coexist with love. But where there is love, there is real power.

None of us can undo the tragedy in Newtown. But we can come together in a spirit of love to move through our feelings, support one another, bless the victims and heal.



— Gabrielle Bernstein is the author of “Spirit Junkie.”

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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