Thursday, April 28, 2011

How to deal with Tragedy

I received devastating news about a relative, whom I love very much, and recent events that could only be deemed "tragic" with regard to his family.  I don't want to talk about his situation; I know nothing about the events leading up to the tragedy.  I do know that I will reach out and help my relatives in any way I can. 

My son died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  I can't tell you how black the hole is that people fall into after a tragedy - I can tell you it is very deep and that you feel you are completely alone in the dark.  And for the most part, you are completely alone.

People don't know how to deal with tragic events and the accompanying they don't deal with them.  This leaves you feeling isolated and more alone and saddened than ever.  Trust me, not knowing what to say to someone after a tragedy is not the problem.  Many people called me after my son's death and said "I don't know what to say".  Not knowing what to say is fine.  Saying that is fine.  It's saying nothing that further destroys the people left to pick up the pieces of shattered lives.

For as many people who called me to tell me they were sorry and didn't know what to say, there were many more who just ignored the whole devastating event after the funeral.  They disappeared out of my life, as if suicide was somehow contagious and I was infected.

Reach out to people who are traumatized by tragic events.  You don't have to know what to say.  Sometimes just hugging someone says more than any words could express.  I thought most people would instinctively know this, but then I was surprised at how many people simply do not.

Put your own discomfort aside and stand next to the people who are going through a tragic event.  Let them know you love and support them, without any judgments or opinions.  No one cares about your judgment or opinion at a time of grief, or ever, for that matter.  Keep them to yourself, or better yet, train yourself not to form them in the first place, because you do not have a clue about another person's life.  You don't know anything about someone else's life unless you're in their shoes, living their lives.  And you certainly have no right to pass judgment or form opinions regarding events of which you are completely clueless.

My heart goes out to my family, as does my support and love; my help in whatever way they need it.  If I could take away the pain and blackness, I would willingly do so.  The road back to normal life is long and treacherous after a tragedy, and people walk it, alone, for the most part.  But they don't have to .  Stand beside them, hold their hands, let them feel your love and support.  And do this well after the funeral dust has settled, the prison door has clanged shut, or whatever the outcome of the tragedy.  People do not get over anything.  They learn to live through their pain.  It would be a lot easier with a little support and a lot of honest love.

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