How to Process Unfathomable Tragedy

How to process unfathomable tragedy

This article was birthed by the recent tragedies and terrorism. Especially the yet to be healed wound created by the recent mass shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, US.

We’ve become numb to this, so tired of weeping. What else are we to do? What’s the next action? How do we handle our griefs? How do we control ourselves and process such unfathomable tragedy?

Several mental health experts made known their insights on how best to handle this.

It is easy to become numb to horrific stories like these that we see on the news. We do not like to think about death, especially random, unpreventable death. So, in order to avoid thinking about death we mentally explain how this could not happen to us (i.e. I do not live in Oregon, I do not attend college, I would have known how to stay safe in this situation). It is vital that we remember that this could happen to us and the only way to limit this possibility is to bring about change on a societal level. The best way to honor the lives of the 10 people is to use this tragedy to create social change through the most powerful voice you have: your vote. – Erin Davidson, Recent Psychology Graduate.

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Read also > Turning your Trauma to Triumph

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Part of me wants to offer healing words, but a stronger part of me thinks sitting with these uncomfortable feelings of anger, grief, shock, anxiety, disgust, and confusion is what motivates change. If we always apply the same healing “balm” following events like this, blaming “sick” individuals or absent parents, we absolve responsibility and continue permitting it to happen. If we listen to these valid feelings, we have an opportunity to actually hear the truth: that there is dysfunction in our society, and what we’ve been doing so far isn’t working; that we need to bind together, take action, and inspire change — both in policy and in the way we make sense of these tragedies.

Of course it’s important to offer emotional support to those closely affected; those paralyzed and forever impacted. But for the rest of us — those of us shaking our heads with heavy hearts — instead of immediately soothing or dampening our pain; then forgetting about it until it inevitably happens again, let’s use this pain as a catalyst to intervention: to empathy-training in schools; to gun control; to restricted access to violent video games. Let’s take responsibility for creating a safer tomorrow. Let’s find meaning in this together. – Megan Bruneau, Psychotherapist.

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America is a country with some very lonely and isolated people in it, largely because of our longstanding emphasis on individuality. Human beings are not meant to live like this; we’re social beings and we thrive when we operate in community. While issues like gun control and access to mental healthcare are hugely important — we’re not going to solve the issue of mass violence until we come together to address what has truly become an epidemic: a country full of lonely people, who are going crazy in their isolation. This is our collective illness — the rot in our nation’s emotional basement. – Dr. Leslie Carr, Clinical Psychologist.

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Read next: Several Beliefs That Get You Stuck in Your Trauma

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