Many of us are feeling re-traumatized and re-triggered by the very public murders and the disregard for the lives of Black and Brown people that we're seeing across the country. Some others of us may feel numb or de-sensitized, two other symptoms of trauma. Our staff got together this week to talk about the ways we're trying to take care of ourselves so we can continue to serve.
We'd like to share our recommendations for survivors struggling with feelings of pain and anger, and for those of you who have survivors in your life that you love and care about.
Often when someone we care about is grieving, we don't know how to reach out to him or her. Because of this, we may unwittingly end up doing or saying the wrong things. While they may sound like common sense, this advice is coming directly from those who have been there, and feel like we're back there all over again.
We all deal with sudden and tragic death differently: shock, anger, revenge, self-blame, and shame are all parts of the seemingly endless flood of emotions. Grief affects people emotionally, physically and spiritually. The impact of trauma, grief, and loss may come up for us anywhere or anytime along our healing journey -especially when we bear witness to murders happening around us.
Drink water. Don't forget to eat. Rest. Grief can impact us physically and make it harder for us to meet our basic needs. Pay attention to how your body reacts and responds. Prioritize taking care of your body.
Do what you love. Go to places that you love. Grief can feel inescapable. Sometimes we can be comforted by remembering what we're passionate about, what we're good at, what fulfills us, and what gives us pleasure. Spend time doing what feeds you and what keeps your spirit healthy - giving ourselves time to rejuvenate may give us the resolve we need to keep going.
Give yourself permission to "shut off" and disconnect from social media. TV, radio, and social media can cause secondary trauma. You have the right to choose not to watch or listen to news stories or social media posts that are disturbing and dehumanizing. Be aware of what you choose to share and why with others who may also be feeling grief. Telling our truth about what's happening in our world is essential; it is also important to consider our intent and impact on others.
Ask for help and support. Asking for help is so difficult for most of us. Try it on anyway. Be as honest as you can. Let your loved ones know if you need company or if you need space. If you need to talk about your feelings but don't know how, one option is to let your friends know, "I'd like to share what I'm feeling, but I don't need feedback in the moment."
Surround yourself with love. Speak with friends who you trust to acknowledge and validate your feelings. Spend time with people who give you positive energy through compassion, patience, and support without judgement.
You don't have to have the right words. Your brief embrace, a press of your hand, and a few words of sympathy can speak more than you know. Avoid trying to fix, save, advise, or correct anyone or how they're feeling.
Comfort the children. Children's grief is often overlooked. They need to express strong emotions that may seem awkward to others. As difficult or uncomfortable as it may be for you, the greatest gift you can give the children is to give them the freedom and permission to cry openly. Being able to release their pent-up emotions will help them cope with what feels overwhelming and never ending.
Don't Forget the Men. Avoid making any assumption that fathers, uncles, brothers, and stepfathers of families are "doing fine." Encourage men you care about to share their feelings without imposing an expectation about being or staying "strong."
Skip these statements when speaking with survivors - they can have negative impact:
"It was God's will"
"He/she was with the wrong kind of people"
"You shouldn't cry so much"
"I understand how you feel"
"He/she lived the wrong kind of life"
"You have to be strong."
"Wrong place at the wrong time"
"He/she should have complied with the police"
We're here to serve you at the Peace Institute. Please reach out to us if we can assist you on your healing journey. Here are four things we can offer in the moment:
A safe, quiet space
Feel free to visit our center of healing, teaching, and learning. We have quiet spaces where you can sit and read, do self-reflection, or rest.
Sand Tray/World Play
We offer a healing technique that allows you to "play in the sand" to release thoughts and feelings that may be heavy. This is also a technique that allows you to imagine and create your own world. If you are interested in trying on Sand Tray/World play, please call us at 617-825-1917 and schedule a time to come in. We'll make sure a staff person is available to guide you.
Homicide Bereavement and Grief Counseling
We work with licensed providers who offer free counseling. Wherever you are in your healing journey, we invite you to take this self-care step. Call us when you're ready and we'll connect you with a provider who can meet with you at the Peace Institute or at another place that you feel comfortable, such as your home.
Sharing Opportunities for Healing
We hope to connect people with options in our community to gather together. If you have an event you would like us to share on our social media, please email Mallory@ldbpeaceinstitute.org and we'll post events that fit within our mission of healing, teaching, and learning. Please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to see events hosted by the Peace Institute and our partners.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of your healing journey. Stay in touch with us.
In peace and prayer,
The Peace Institute Team