In the aftermath of tragedy, there is danger of becoming what you hate:
You hate it that someone walked into a classroom and killed innocent people, especially children, so you want to lash out at that person and at everyone who gets in your way. Murder is too kind; you think of torture.
You hate it that one you loved and trusted had an affair so you think of striking back by having an affair yourself.
You wonder what one you love found in alcohol so you go out to get drunk to experience whatever high booze gave him/her.
You get the picture! We are drawn to that which pains us.
Don’t mis-understand. Yes, murder is too kind to atone for great tragedy. But torture does worse things to you than to the person or condition you hate.
As I work with high risk students, it sounds like this:
I’ve got an awful, rotten, racist teacher so I’m going to sit in his class and fail.
We call that “stinkin’ thinkin.’” “The teacher gets paid whether you pass or fail,” we tell them. “If what you say is true, he probably doesn’t like you either. Make him give you an A! It will drive him crazy!”
That’s the key. Pay it forward. Use this circumstance to make the world a better place and you a better person.
What to Do When Nothing Can Be Done.
9. Avoid Dependencies. As a child, I loved to memorize fun and poignant poems. One goes like this:
I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye...”
–Edgar Albert Guest
When we “strike back;” when we anesthetize ourselves; when we seek to find value in a relationship or accomplishment...we are really just burying our grief and adding garbage to it. We may even get sick enough to enjoy our pain.
If you find solace in a bottle, a relationship, or a pill, you simply postpone your grief. Face it so you can live again.
As I promised, in sympathy for the victims and grieving survivors of Sandy Hook, I will offer one pointer each day over the next few weeks for “What to do when nothing can be done.” Check the other entries or archives for what you might have missed. When school begins again in January, I will turn the focus to schools.
Lockett Learning offers a wide array of resources to help you and your children deal with grief.
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