NORFOLK, Va. - We live in a culture that implores us to move quickly away from pain we are dealing with after tragedy strikes. Because of this, many people do not know how to properly grieve.
In the aftermath of something like a mass shooting, people can be angry, in pain, in a state of fear, and we often approach grief as a problem to be solved. Therapist Julie Walls said many go at it with their intellect, trying to understand or make sense of it and we deny our need to grieve.
Walls said some people want to treat symptoms, solve problems, give helpful advice and make people, including ourselves, more comfortable emotionally. We do not know how to be with our fear and pain.
What people in pain do not need is someone to move toward them with problem solving, someone to take away the pain. Walls suggests what they need is someone who will accept the grief and hurt with openness.
She reminds us that grief is not a mental illness. It is a natural, normal response to loss. All help begins with the creation of an emotionally safe space.
What to do if you or someone you know is grieving:
- Talk with someone who you trust emotionally.
- Go to a meditation class.
- Sit quietly in nature.
- Engage in something artistic: Write, draw, listen to music, dance.
- If you cannot sleep, simply allow yourself to rest.
- Remember to eat.
- The best grief counselor is a dog.
Normal symptoms of grief include pain, sadness, anxiety, fear, rage, hate, blame and resentment.