Grief, anger, sadness, anxiety, and guilt.
I suspect many of us are feeling [some combination of] these [or similar] feelings [again], but the last one is something I wanted to take a moment to highlight: guilt.
Right now, I feel guilty for taking care of myself and my feelings when tragedies like Uvalde happened just two days ago and not that far from home. I feel guilty that my young child came home safely and that this morning, I took care of him, the garden, and the animals as usual before sitting down in my home office for my day job. Life just keeps moving forward and I feel so guilty for that when I think of how abnormal it is—and always will be—for others now.
But I feel compelled to say that it’s important to acknowledge your feelings as valid, however broad their spectrum may be, and that guilt should not keep you from responding to your own needs. There is a difference between mourning and grieving losses and punishing / neglecting yourself for something you did not do.
Trauma is so COMPLEX and one of the biggest problems is that there’s been no time to even begin processing the trauma of mass shootings in America because they JUST. KEEP. HAPPENING. They keep compacting, one on top of the other, on top of the other so no wonder we all feel helpless.
Plus, there’s the notion that, “we can’t become numb to this,” which I wholeheartedly agree with: mass shootings and executions should never, EVER be normalized or seen as anything but heinous, horrific, and evil. But as you attempt to digest the unavoidable news, remember that feelings of NUMBNESS as well as helplessness, lack of motivation, immobilization, and disconnectedness are all also very real symptoms of trauma and survivor’s guilt.
Your feelings are valid and they need your attention, acknowledgement, and grace so that the numbness from trauma doesn’t spread into the numbness to mass murder.
There is value in offering your compassion and taking meaningful steps in a way that is available to you that might not look like everyone else’s at the same time, and that’s okay. As long as we keep doing our best TOGETHER to make positive change in this world, to be helpers and comforters, friends, and volunteers—itty bitty steps or no—then we’re doing the right thing.
We need you. We all need each other.
Please take care of yourselves.
I love you, whoever you are, I really do.