The name “Las Vegas” conjures up a variety of immediate images, primarily associated with gambling, entertainment and sightseeing. That was before 10:00 PM on Sunday, October 1, 2017. At 10:08, during the Route 91 Harvest Festival, shots rang out from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Below, a crowd of 22,000 people, listening to Jason Aldean began to scatter and run under a hail of bullets.
It sounds like a scene out of a disaster movie, but sadly it was not. Yet one more time our nation, and the world, witnessed yet another senseless act of violence. At last report, this one left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured by the shooter or in the resulting stampede of those trying to escape the carnage. This time, despite claims by ISIS, it appears that this was not an act of international terrorism, but rather a single, crazed individual.
We all want to know why this happened, but does that really matter to those people who were targeted or impacted by this event? Whether or not we know the why will not really help people successfully move beyond the emotional pain of this event. Since the shooter took his own life, there will be no trial or court case for everyone to follow on the news. The real problem involved now is in dealing with our grief!
Random acts of violence are nothing new; it's well recorded throughout history and even predates recorded history. If we watch nature shows, we see it even among other species. The difference today is that we are all aware when they take place. Today it’s on every news and cable channel for us to relive over and over again. Now the grief of such events not only touches those who were directly involved or related to the victim, it touches everyone on the planet that has access to the news. It breaks our hearts and it makes us begin to fear for our personal safety in every situation we encounter; we feel a profound loss of safety and security in our lives. For those who take these actions, it has become a game of numbers to see who will be remembered in history for taking the most lives.
We, at The Grief Recovery Institute, are horrified by this event. We wish that there were some way that we could turn back time to prevent this and the other horrifying events that have taken an overwhelming number of lives, and left even more grieving in their aftermath. Sadly, there is no way to do this, so we must find a way to face the future and move beyond the emotional pain left in their wake.
We are not telling you to “get over it!”
One of the most common things that people ask, after such a horrific event is, “How can we get over it!” In reality, we never get over things like this. To suggest that we can get over it is impossible. We can, however, learn to thrive and survive in spite of it. Nor are we going to offer you any of those many other things, such as "Be Strong," or "Grief takes time," as a solution. Such comments simply encourage people to suppress their emotional pain, rather than taking action to move beyond its power.
If we let the acts of people, such as the man identified as the Las Vegas shooter, forever destroy our lives, then we let them win. He will not have just killed and injured those people at that concert, but he will forever strike fear in the hearts of everyone venturing to Las Vegas, a concert or casino. He will have accomplished that goal of forever being remembered and his control over others will stretch well beyond the grounds on which that concert was held.
How do we “survive?”
The chance that you will ever be the direct victim of something like what happened in Las Vegas or a terrorist attack are remarkably slim. That does not mean that we do not think about it, especially after what happened this weekend. The best way to deal with this is with some basic information.
Every time any of us travel on a commercial airline, we are forced to listen to safety instructions or watch a recorded message concerning how to deal with an emergency. I fly a great deal and have watched the majority of other passengers ignore those messages. I don’t! I pay attention so that I know where the exits are located and what to do. I even try to sit in the exit row, so that I can be part of the process.
When I am in unfamiliar places, I unconsciously pay attention to my surroundings, so that I am aware of what is going on around me. This is called “being in the present moment.” This does not mean that I am living in fear of something untoward happening. I actually make sure that I take the every opportunity to enjoy where I am and what I am doing. This does not guarantee that I will always be safe, but it does mean that I have some personal control finding safety if it’s necessary.
We all store information in our personal belief system on how to stay safe, even without realizing it. If you live in a country where people drive on the right side of the road, you unconsciously look to the left whenever you cross the street. Rather than living in fear of a random shooter or terrorist, you can add additional information to your basic survival skills! If you check on the Internet, you will find videos and university sites that will give you information on dealing with such random situations. These will give you some basic survival skills, in the highly unlikely event you will ever need them.
How do we survive and thrive after dealing with such an emotionally painful incident?
First and foremost, it’s not just random shooters and terrorists who bring grief into our lives!
Every major change that we encounter in our journey through life can impact us with elements of grief. A loved one who dies as a result of an illness or accident can be just as emotionally painful as losing someone at the hand of a lunatic or terrorist. A relationship that ends and does not make international headlines can still leave you feeling lost and alone. Some of the loss events that impact you may fall under the heading of “disenfranchised grief” and may not gather any sympathy from others, but can still be emotionally painful to you. Ultimately, it’s entirely up to you whether you allow any of these singular events to destroy your ability to again experience joy in your life. You can take action to move beyond the pain of any emotional loss.
The Grief Recovery Method is about taking action. It’s designed to help you successfully deal with how any loss has impact on you on an emotional basis. It’s about you taking back the power to find joy in your life. It’s about not letting other people have the power to make you feel persecuted, sad or forever devastated by their actions or physical departure from your life. “The Grief Recovery Handbook” is a step-by-step guide to assist you in taking this action for your personal recovery from loss of any kind.
If you are trying to help your children deal with emotionally impactful events in their lives, including the acts of violence and terrorism that they hear on the news, you will find enormous assistance in “When Children Grieve.” This book will give you the tools you need to allow them to safely put voice to their feelings, without analysis, criticism or judgment. It will help you to open the door to help them through painful events, so that they are not forever negatively impacted them.
We are all touched by events that can bring grief into our lives on a regular basis. While the acts of violent people and terrorists are covered in the headlines, and make us acutely aware of singular events, we can be just as deeply hurt by losses that never make headlines or are deemed as painful by others. While we have a legal system in place that will impart punishment to those who commit crimes, there is no law that will help you deal with loss on an emotional level. Taking this kind of grief recovery action is entirely up to you. How to effectively take that action is what the Grief Recovery Method is all about!
Do not let actions of an offender, and others like him, make you forever a victim. Take action for yourself so that you can survive and thrive in spite of such people. If you fail do so, you have let them forever destroy your hopes for tomorrow, which means that they control your happiness forevermore! The Las Vegas shootings may forever be in our memory, but they do not need to control our future.
Everyone at the Grief Recovery Institute is heartbroken by the horrifying act of violence in Las Vegas. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by what happened, the victims and their families, the communities and our nation grieving the loss of so much.
We offer these other articles from our Grief Blog library as additional information and reading:
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