I did not want to write this blog… And yet, here I am. I fought it. I started it, and then I set it aside. Then I drafted another “thought-provoking” blog, one that was more “clinical,” one that didn’t rip out my heart, one that helped me disconnect from these feelings. Obviously, since you’re reading this blog and not that one, you know it wasn’t flowing. Why? Because this is my topic. The whole week has brought me back to this topic…this place…my grief…what I’m supposed to express.
58 Dead... I would guess that many of you woke up this week to the headline, “Las Vegas shooting…58 dead.” I don’t know what the last count was…my truth is that one dead is too many. It feels like these shootings, these attacks, these tragedies…they’re normalizing. We wake up in outrage. “How could this happen…again?!?” But it has. And it’s not normal. Normal is people living their lives, going to concerts, walking their dogs, going to nightclubs, socializing with friends and family, going to work, getting a good night of sleep, and doing these things without the fear that someone is going to “open-fire” on them.
But not this week. A man who seemingly had no problems (non-political, non-religious, no-mental illness, happy-in-a-relationship, wealthy) opened-fire from his hotel room into a crowd of people enjoying a country music festival. The people who survived will never be the same. So many died. The shooter is also dead. Security will heighten, which is a shame. We will talk gun control, which we should. We will dissect it in the news, which we shouldn’t. We will look for others to blame because he is dead, which won’t bring those people back.
There was a day when this would have baffled me…that day has passed, and that makes me sad. When things like this don’t baffle us, they become normal…chaos becomes an everyday part of our world. It doesn’t have to be that way…but sometimes I wonder if peace and civility and humanity and compassion and kindness have become the oddball way of life?
So, I woke up this morning knowing that this is where I really am. I figured out, on a much deeper level, that I’m grieving. That’s why it kept “pulling” at me. My grieving didn’t start this week…it’s been going on for a while. It’s been a variety of situations that have me in the “Grief Swampland.” I’m grieving the lines that have been drawn in my country, the hate that I’ve seen expressed and dismissed, a new ritual of kneeling for the flag, the shootings this week and last year in the nightclub, the way my country is projecting itself in the world, the hurricanes and other natural disasters (where people and animals still need our help). I’m also grieving personal relationships that are different than I would choose, body changes that are a part of aging and that I can’t control, a father with Alzheimer’s Disease, a mother who has become his caregiver, and on, and on, and on. My world is not what I thought it was…and that’s okay…because I want it to be better than I thought it was anyway.
Thank God, I’m grieving. When tragedy strikes others, I’m supposed to grieve. With every aspect of life, there is a ripple effect that affects everything in its path: humanity, our environment, every living creature on this planet. I’m not supposed to like the things that I described above…we’re connected…your pain is my pain. That’s why I do the work that I do…because I want to be one more voice of change, of love, of connection. I want us to care that 58 (or more) people were gunned down and do something about it. I want us to see and “feel” what that must be like for the people who were there and the family and friends who lost a loved one. I want us to care about people with mental illness, about environmental changes, about discrimination, about imaginary “lines in the sand.” We are all in this together, whether you’d like to admit that or not. Grieving connects us with humanity. We grieve because we connect to and understand pain; we grieve because we have lost something that we cared about; we grieve because we have compassion and empathy; we grieve because we are human.
The final stage of grieving is “acceptance.” What I do accept is that we aren’t where I believe we can get to. And, in this moment, there are things that I simply can’t accept. I don’t accept that we can’t find a way to come together. I don’t accept that we can’t communicate and respect our differences. I don’t accept that a shooter can “legally” own 20 weapons. I don’t accept that the line that’s been drawn in the sand is unmovable. I don’t accept that we can’t do things to reverse global warming. I don’t accept that your color of blood is any different than mine. I’m just not there. I haven’t found peace with it and there’s a big part of me that hopes I never do.
I’m going to go walk my dog now. He’ll know what to say…he always does. He’ll tell me that God has this one…he has all of them. And that it’s okay to grieve…
Thanks for being you…Peace friend ✌
p.s. Check out my video on this topic: Why We Grieve…
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