The ripple effects in the aftermath of the largest mass shooting in US history have traveled well beyond Aurora Colorado
We are all connected. A tragedy such as this is proof that though we may not know any of those who have passed personally (or their family members and friends), the experience nonetheless hits a core in all of us.
Death — especially one of this magnitude — awakens the fragility of life. Most people, even those who have a strong spiritual base, may be confronted on their faith or belief of “life after death” no matter how they define it. For many, death is their number one fear. This is the end.
I have spent over the last 35 years dealing quite literally with death, specifically with the living who have lost loved ones. Although I’m not a traditional “grief therapist “ with a PhD, MD or MSW degree, I have helped thousands connect with their loved ones who have died. And for most all of them our work together was the most significant healing that helped them with the death of their loved ones.
There is no magic wand to grief, and no one way to heal. I have helped others work through the process of grief in large seminar settings to small family sittings to intimate, private sessions. And if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that everyone grieves in their own unique time and way. However, there is one consistent experience I can say is always there with every connection. It’s that 90% “closure” never completely happens. The experience of a sense of “loss” is always there. And similarly, the experience of the shootings last week will always be there for those who experienced it. What I most hope for is that each will experience their own sense of “healing” even if the sense of “closure” will never be realized. There are no rules or magic wands that will help anyone easily get up each day, put on their socks and shoes, leave the front door and live their life like the trauma or loss never happened. The “daze” that is experience after loss can last for a while, it is unique to each individual.
So when someone says to you to “get over it, it’s time to move on,” look them square in the face, take a breath, and don’t feel guilt for where you are and how long you may need to be there. What everyone refers to as “closure” is little more than a myth. And only those who have lost can really appreciate this truth. However, if you can begin to work towards “healing” and opening your heart again…then a whole new life awaits you. One that may never have full closure, but one that does go on and has the same possibilities of love as it’s always has. As a client of mine said in reflection of her son’s death — “there simply was the life before Justin’s death and there’s a life after.”