Sorry to get melodramatic here, but recent events in the world have assumed proportions that are best described by Shakespeare.
Fallouja is a new word for most of us, but it now contains ideas and images that may tamper with us for a long time. We already know the word Madrid and we all know what trains are, but now those two words have taken on implications that may linger in our hearts and souls. Even the benign word backpack has morphed as the result of being a container to house lethal explosives in Madrid.
We scarcely had time to get our heads above water after hearing of – and seeing – the horrific events in the Madrid train station, when, the news – and film – of the diabolical actions in Fallouja pushed our emotional heads under once more. We are ill-equipped to deal with death and other losses at the best of times. But the times are clearly not so good. Often the circumstances and causes of death add a dimension to our grief, individually and collectively.
Our socialization and education shy away from grief and recovery, as if talking about them would somehow contaminate us or cause something bad to happen. As a result, we are shocked when we don’t know how to deal with our emotional reactions, nor how to guide our children and others when affected by painful events.
Yes, you could say that you didn’t know anyone who died in the Madrid bombings, nor in the streets of Fallouja, but that would not represent a total truth. As members of the family of humankind, we are all affected. Sometimes the impact is in the memories those events stimulate in us about our loved ones who are no longer here. Sometimes those reminders send us forward in fear for our own safety or that of our loved ones.
The events that we see and hear about in the news affect us all. Billions of people were emotionally affected by the tragic death of Princess Di. Yet most of us had never met her, never had dinner with her, never had even seen her in person.
No, we are not comparing the death of a celebrity princess with soldiers in armed conflicts or innocents on a train in Spain. We are simply connecting the emotional dots caused when a news event worms its way into our personal, emotional neighborhood. Talk about a virus. The fears are planted in the computers of our minds, which then affect our emotions. These news events cannot be bypassed with an emotional anti-virus program. If we hear about them, they will affect us.
Nor are we taking any positions or sides on any geo-political issues, or on any issues of religion and morality, or on matters of sovereign nations and country borders.
Loss is inevitable, along with the grief that must accompany it. Some events have direct and immediate impact on us and those in our family or community circle. Other events act as reminders of losses from our pasts. Sometimes larger than life events in the news engage our membership in the family of humankind and generate a wellspring of emotions. In all cases, we must learn to deal with our feelings as they occur.
Loss is constant. Even when the world seems to be rolling along a little more merrily, we still need more effective ideas and actions for dealing with grief. Don’t leave yourself or your family in an emotional lurch. Acquire more openness and awareness about reaction to loss and what to do about it.