We Are One
by Marina Lombardo
Almost in defiance of such horror, the community has responded heroically. People have come together in extraordinary ways and the heartbeat of Orlando has echoed with love and support throughout the world.
But now that the dust is beginning to settle, what remains is a heavy sense of sadness. We are living in the aftermath of this tragedy and coming to terms with the reality that yes, senseless, horrific acts can happen here as well.
So how do we heal? And as therapists, how do we help others?
To begin with, it helps to remind ourselves, and perhaps share with our clients, that there are always two dimensions to global trauma. The first is what we experience in community with others. We suffer together, but in doing so we realize that we are not alone in our pain. When we volunteer, donate blood or attend vigil services we participate in this shared experience.
As therapists, we have the unique opportunity to donate our time (our local TRN) or receive additional training that allows us to be more skilled in serving our clients (FYI on local trainings click here). This coming together allows us to feel connected to one another. We realize that we can make a difference.
The second dimension is what arises individually. Of course, if the loss hits close to home, the impact is uniquely personal and heart wrenching. But even if this is not the case, the grief of collective trauma brings to the surface our own unhealed wounds and fears, and those of our clients.
Perhaps there are past losses that have been ignored, or fears about what the future holds. All of us have our own experiences and this is the lens through which we perceive the world. Even though this is normal, when we get lost in our stories, we feel more disconnected from one another.
It’s important to recognize this because after traumatic events, emotions can run high. We may notice that clients are more dysregulated, and we ourselves may struggle with feelings of sadness, powerlessness, confusion: Healing for Survivors/trauma symptoms. Inadvertently, we might find ourselves acting out the very feelings that undergird acts of violence. We risk becoming part of the very problem we are trying to heal.
By becoming aware of this possibility, we can choose to slow down and take better care of ourselves. We can take some quiet time to just breathe and be….to listen to music, sit outside, to journal, or reach out and talk to a friend or colleague. We can make time to attend a yoga class, or get a massage. 100+ Resources for Aftermath of Orlando.
Most important, we can remind ourselves of the value of just being kind. Not just polite or courteous, but kind. The word “kind” comes from the word “kin,” meaning our clan or family. When we look at others …our clients, our colleagues, the stranger on the street…as one of our own, the other feels seen and a connection is made. And it is this connection that heals.
The simple intention each day to treat oneself and others with loving kindness is profound, an antidote to so much of the separation and hate we see. Truly, this one choice has the power to not only heal us, but bless our community and our world.