How To Respond To Tragedy: The Right Way

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This is going to be very short. Because there's only one way to respond to tragedy:

"I'm sorry. I brought food/a cozy blanket/tissues. How else can I help you?"

It's really that simple. 

Human beings like to tinker at things and fix people's problems. We will often go out of our way to do so. But this isn't always what people need. People need connection and they need unconditional support.

They need people who won't try to use their tragedy to make themselves feel better about things.

Last week two (1) (2) terrible events happened and in both cases we all felt it was necessary to put our two cents in.... We became parenting experts, gun-rights/control experts, constitutional law experts, alligator experts, we became experts at a number of things that most of us probably know very little about. 

Sadly, there are two things I am an expert at: losing a child, and losing a friend in a high profile mass shooting. The aftermaths of both are traumatic and of any action you could take, I will assert that the above response is the only one which will be of any use.

You can't fix a family broken over the loss of their child.

You can't fix murderous violence enacted on someone you love.

You can't fix terrible mass violence acts after they've already happened.

The only thing you can fix -- the only thing you have any control over -- is your response to suffering, and how much love you show to someone grieving during such experiences.

It doesn't matter if it's a stranger over the internet or the neighbor next door.

Extend a helping hand.

Don't offer platitudes, information about how things happen for a reason, an explanation of your feelings about the situation, or an opinion regarding what you would have done to avoid the situation.

Just don't. They don't need your solutions, and trust me -- they're aware of every single, minute detail of the "event" which has affected them, and every single step leading up to the event and how differently things could be if they'd diverged from their paths for even a second.

Just choose to love people.

Let them know you're there.

Bring food.

Leave if they want you to. Or stay and listen to them talk, hold them when they cry, and remember their lost loved one with them.

It's really simple and it will be so appreciated.

Love is always welcome.

Love has no expectation of a return.

Love doesn't feel the need to pontificate, and love will be the thing they remember after all of the dust has settled and life becomes somewhat normal again.

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