As I woke up the other morning I grabbed my phone and was confused by the various messages asking if I was OK. I quickly pulled up the local Orlando news to see that during the night a dark horrific tragedy had occurred in the city I call home. My heart sunk as I viewed the news reports on the mass shooting that took the innocent lives of 49 people and affected countless others. As I sat trying to wrap my mind around the magnitude of this loss, one of my thoughts rested on the people whose “Are you OK?” texts wouldn’t be receiving a response. The depth of grief that has consumed the lives of so many is heart wrenching.
When the pain from loss is so deep we can sometimes want to shut down and push our feelings aside. It’s human nature to avoid pain as best we can; this is why denial is part of the stages that we each experience. It is normal to pull away in disbelief, but we must be careful to not stop ourselves from moving into other areas of our grief.
Everyone experiences grief differently. It is a very personal journey that is unique to each individual. The common thread of our grief is found in the stages we experience: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. How many times we experience a stage or when we experience a stage depends on where we are in our process. There is no time limit on grief or shortcuts to hurry the process along. In order to grieve we must allow room in our lives for the grief. Setting aside time to sit with the emotions and thoughts is important for the healing process. Joining a support group helps us feel connected to others that understand our loss. Counseling gives us a safe place to process our innermost thoughts and feelings. There are many steps we can take to create space for grief in our lives, but we must choose to walk into the process.
I read a quote the other day that says, “Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.” The truths of these words resonate throughout my city as thousands of people mourn the souls that were lost that tragic night. We grieve because we loved.