Collective Grief


It’s difficult to keep in touch with the news these days without feeling a sense of loss, despair and helplessness. How do we stay healthy in the midst of such tragedies as terrorist attacks, mass killings, and the untimely deaths of people in our communities. Often, it starts “inside” with conscious self-care, because all of this takes its toll on our bodies and spirits, even if we’ve already gotten back to the busyness of our days. Taking time to be in touch with our experience of these tragedies can help us all to be more available for others in our work, community, and home. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Spend a little time each day in quiet to collect your thoughts and feelings;
  • Get out into the woods, where the incredible beauty can restore your spirits;
  • Hug the people closest to you and spend time with friends;
  • Let go of expectations about how you or anyone else should or should not be grieving.

It’s good to just let yourself feel the anger, frustration, sadness, and despair, etc. Once you are in that space for a while, find outlets to release the feelings.  You might write in a journal or make art.  Physical outlets can be helpful, too, such as dancing, hiking up hill, or running.  Perhaps connecting with friends and family will give your spirit the boost it needs.

Try to look for the good things in life, the caring people, and the amazing resiliency of the human spirit.

And what about the children in our lives?  It’s really important to be in touch with your children, and other kids in your lives.

  • If we are taking good care of ourselves, we are more likely to be present for our kids;
  • Let the kids in your life know you are open to conversations with them about these local, regional and world tragedies;
  • Encourage them to share what they have heard and to ask questions;
  • Listen for their fears and anxieties; reassure them that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe;
  • Less detail is better for young children, but be as honest as you can;
  • Do what you can to protect them from too much media.

And teach children and teens some tools for calming down — exercise, breathing, dancing, and/or art.  You can model these tools in how you care for yourself, and also take time to do these things with them.

*************************************************************************************************Note: For organizational links and potential resources for local support with a collective traumatic loss or crisis, see our next grief library link “Complicated Grief & Trauma.”