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How to Cope When Tragedy Happens

Hi friends! I hope you are doing well. I apologize for the bit of a hiatus. I only write when inspiration strikes, which is probably not advisable if you want people to read your blog, but "I'm a peacock, you gotta let me fly!" (Quick! Name that movie!)

When I say that, I mean that I probably won't always post consistently and it just is what it is. I've given myself permission to not be perfect or adhere to a schedule, and I'm happy to give you the permission to just be as well.

Onto the heavy topic of today's blog... How do we cope when the world appears to have one tragedy after another? Today, I'm thinking of the Covenant School shooting. And whenever I do, I am bereft. I know what it is to lose a child. I don't know what it is to send your baby to school, and expect to pick them up that evening, and instead have to identify their bodies by their shoes or clothes that night. I hope that I never know what that feels like. I hope that change is coming.

Tomorrow, I could be referencing something else tragic from around the world. The reality is we live on a planet that is rife with sadness and cruelty and hatred and bigotry and anger and violence. We *know* this to be true. And yet, how do we manage to take care of our fears and hold our grief when there is a never-ending train of trauma to consume? I propose that there are steps to increasing our resilience while also giving space for our sadness.

The first step would be to limit your news consumption to one (1) source (radio, TV, print, etc.). I would argue that the media's job is not to increase your knowledge on a subject, but to arouse your ire. Anger and fear have a purpose, but do you want the media to be telling you what to think or who to be afraid of? The solution is to reduce your consumption to one category, and then find three sources within that category from three differing political views on the spectrum. This gives you a more balanced view of the situation. This also requires more work, and more critical thinking, which is on the decline.

The second step would be to hold your emotions in ways that are meaningful to you. We don't often allow emotions to 'complete the cycle' in our fast paced society, which is why we are an anxious nation. For me, I listen to music when I am sad or angry, and give myself room to express during the length of the song whatever I am feeling. Allowing my body to complete the feelings cycle then gives me the fortitude to keep going, and reduces the likelihood of a nasty rebound of negative feelings later on in the form of nightmares or panic attacks. Once I've allowed myself time to feel whatever I need to, I dust myself off after a song or two, and move into the third step.

Thirdly, it would behoove all of us to find ways to take action. Grief without purpose is stagnant and painful. Anger without action turns to rage. Search for groups to work with (grassroots organizations, lobbying groups, volunteer organizations, etc.) and give of your time and energy. Allow your feelings to be your motivation. Press forward for all the people who cannot. Call your congress members. Write your state legislators. Find peace in pushing, moving, acting.

Finally, recognize that while we do live in a harsh world with absolutely horrific problems, we also reside in a world where a toddler can stop and stare at a ladybug on a flower. Our planet contains the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, the mystical beauty of the Taj Mahal, and has the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky. If you're living in a country not torn apart by war, in a shelter with a roof over your head, and beauty and rest are available to you when you need them, then things are not entirely dire. If you can look out your window, and see the horizon clearly with the sunshine piercing through, then the world is and can still be good. If you have the freedom to dance, sing, chant, and pray, then this life is still good, even with tragedy lurking in the darkness. This planet needs good people working in their unique corner of the universe to bring about that which is true, beautiful and good. Those people are you, dear readers.

Know that I am thinking of you all in these times. I pray that you recognize the beauty in your life, and are able to hold your fears and pad your soul when these events happen. It is my belief that most people are doing the best they can with what they have, so let us be gentle with each other in our discourses online or in person. We never know what someone else is going through.

Take care of yourself and those you love,

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