Photo by Robert J. Morales
“For every calamity, there is always a way to heal”
Emotional healing can be filled with challenges requiring a monumental effort to overcome any difficulty and become a more empowered person. But what happens when disaster befalls an entire family, group or community? How does healing occur when so many lives have been altered in such drastic and different ways?
Tragedies often happen unexpectedly. Nature is frequently one of the perpetrators but unfortunately, many catastrophic events are plotted by perverse and malicious people. These events can threaten and terrorize just a few or devastate an entire race of people. My adopted hometown is coming up on its second anniversary of the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States and many, understandably, continue to struggle with its aftermath.
Community healing, needless to say, is more complicated than recovering on an individual basis. Since our journeys are likely different, adding more affected lives only multiplies the number of possibilities for healing to occur. There are definitely steps which can be taken to help yourself as well as the entire group to regain some semblance of overcoming any tragic event.
One of the most helpful steps is discussing it in a group setting. Expressing to others who experienced it and talking about the different mental and physical stresses you faced is very therapeutic. There is good reason for this as well. The horrific shock of the event often causes us to bottle up our thoughts, feelings and emotions; almost as though not talking about it will help us forget. However, this silence more often creates the opposite effect and makes us vulnerable, short-fused, or explosive when we feel confronted. Expressing these thoughts to others not only releases them from within, it allows others to convey their empathy and concern towards us. This confession of sorts, allows us to feel more accepted by others and more importantly, by ourselves. It’s why group therapy helps in ways that individual sessions cannot.
In showing others comfort, it also builds trust leading to a stronger community. After the shooting in Las Vegas, its professional hockey team, the Golden Knights, really stepped up and supported those affected. Admittedly, I am not a fan of professional sports but I am incredibly proud of what this team did. They visited victims in the hospital, donated blood, and so much more to help this community. Their efforts united this town in ways that will positively impact it for decades.
Often survivors go through the “why me” phase and while this is completely understandable and not a wrong thought to have, it also can be a road block to healing. There may never be a reason why any particular person survived but if you could speak to those from beyond the grave, they would no doubt encourage you to heal and live your life to the fullest. This does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t grieve for the others, it only suggests that you do your best to heal and live a full life.
Community healing involves many working together; just as in individual recovery, it takes much effort and understanding. There will be those impacted more adversely than others who need a bit more compassion and care. Working as a team, however, can ultimately heal and strengthen your community to become more victorious than could ever be imagined.
There are countless other stories of community healing. Please feel free to leave your favorite in the comments. Reading them will definitely help inspire action should you ever find yourself in one of these trying situations.