The loss this weekend in Orlando is devastating to anyone that has heard about this senseless mass murder. However, for those that were directly impacted because they lost a child, friend, or loved one, the sense of loss is beyond words. It's difficult to even know where to start in this type of grieving process, especially since there was no way to say goodbye to the person you lost, which so often helps with some type of closure.
While all types of loss are hard to cope with, it becomes more complicated when an act of murder is involved. In addition, to the deep physical and emotional hurt a person is experiencing, there is most likely anger and frustration that must be coped with toward the killer and, in this case, the terrorist organization that has encouraged these acts.
- Cry and let your emotions out. While many cultures have been taught to internalize feelings, this can lead to problems with coping and extend the grief. You can opt to do this alone or with close friends and family, but let those emotions flow. It's a cathartic process that helps with healing and lets the body release the tension that gets stored in muscles and memory.
- Take time off from work rather than throwing yourself into it. Overworking yourself is not a way to handle the grief. Instead, it may cause tension for others and you may find you are not performing at your best. It's better to take the personal time and work through your feelings in the comfort of your home.
- Consider going to a public vigil for the victims. Here, you can meet others who lost their loved ones. The sense of sharing those same emotions - even though they are strangers - can provide comfort when others who may not have been through the same experience struggle to help or know what to say. Seeing all the other community members that have come out to show their support for you and the other families who lost loved ones may also bring comfort through the love you will feel from others that want to heal your pain.
- Turn to your faith if this is a force in your life. With a mass shooting like the one in Orlando, you will be saying, "why," over and over, so it may be of benefit to turn to a pastor or rabbi for guidance. This may also help if you have feelings of revenge, guilt, or other emotions that you have never previously experienced but that can adversely impact how you continue to live.
- Go talk to a counselor about your feelings. These professionals can provide an objective, outside source for advice and guidance. While close family and friends may seem to be the best option - and you should do so if you feel comfortable - sometimes talking to a complete stranger is easier. This is because you are not dealing with thoughts about whether those friends or family are judging you or looking at you a certain way for such an outward display of emotions and vulnerability. A professional grief counselor or psychologist can also offer specific advice in relation to the rage you may feel when thinking about someone taking your loved one's life. They can also give you a roadmap for healing as well as work with you on how you now perceive the world and your own sense of safety.
- Attend a bereavement support group. If you are ready to talk to others, it may be beneficial to hear other people's stories of loss and grief. They will most likely understand you more than anyone else plus offer their own advice on how they have approached the healing process.
- Take it slowly. This is not something you can just bounce back from and continue living as you did before. Such a trauma has completely altered your life to the point that you cannot go back to where you were. Instead, you will have to look toward the future and take it step by step. No one shares the same timelines for healing so it's important to do it in your own time rather than based on anyone's expectations. Recognize that you will go through various stages of grieving that all must be dealt with before you can move onto the next one.
Grief Tips for Those Who Lost Loved Ones in Orlando was originally published on Open to Hope by John Rampton.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.