Through our shock, outrage and incomprehensible sadness at the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we listened carefully as our President emotionally addressed the nation saying that we will be taking meaningful action to prevent another such tragedy. Today we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the community in Newtown Connecticut, and most especially to the families of the victims. As we attempt to make sense of the senseless, many wonder what exactly is "meaningful action"? As a country in mourning, we are confronted with issues that loom large and are almost impossible to process.
At the Flawless Foundation, we live and breathe "meaningful action" everyday in our work of mental illness prevention and awareness. Over the next few weeks, as the nation begins the process of healing, I will be writing about these complicated topics. Today we begin with one of the most crucial elements to the mending of our broken hearts: grief.
Why is grief so important? To begin to answer this question, I repeat what I wrote in the aftermath of the shootings this past summer in Colorado. " When these tragedies strike, our knee jerk response is to focus on gun control rather than our health care crisis, on punishment in the name of justice aided by sensationalized media that perpetuates violence and re-traumatizes us all. If we aren't lashing out at the offender, we shut down and hold our breath until the painful, terrifying memories start to fade. It is in this numb state that we take no action and disconnect from our own humanity through our prejudice, horror and silence."
Yes, it's in this dangerous, numb state that we fail to take action. Fear, grief and rage paralyze us, and when we hold our breath until it seems to disappear, we become more disenfranchised and magnify the problem. In my work I deal with trauma and tragedy everyday, and people often ask me how I am able to remain an upbeat, happy person with so much energy to work in this field fraught with such high levels of burn out. My answer is always the same "the gold is in the grief." I can heed the call to action rather than get overwhelmed because I feel and acknowledge every feeling as it comes up. I know that all faces of our human experience are crucial to living a balanced and love filled life of service. I face whatever excruciating pain comes to me, process it and then turn it into action.
For today our collective grief includes; the loss of innocent children and adults; the family of the young man responsible for the shootings who showed signs of having a brain disorder; the failed and very flawed mental health system; the fact that it is now Hanukkah, and Christmas is less than ten days away; the fear that this could happen anywhere to anyone in any family; the divisive politics around gun control that prevent us from moving ahead; the lack of funding for a cure for brain disorders; and the horrifying fact that this was easily prevented.
But there is hope! We can do this... we can turn our outrage and pain into fuel to catapult us to work together to prevent such tragedies in the future. Bright, inspiring hope prevails and is revealed to us in our work every single day. We know that a ray of light can only shine through our current darkness. For now, we sit still and hold space for our brothers and sisters in Connecticut and we show reverence for the gold, which is the powerful fuel, our human grief.