This post is dedicated to a dear friend and the question, how do we deal with human tragedies?
There is no easy answer and definitely we cannot find one in daily reality.
There is a lot of conflict, misery and sadness in the world today. Yet at the same time there is great love, understanding and patience to be experienced. Both aspects are the opposite sides of the same coin.
Perhaps there is indeed more drama than there used to be, or perhaps we notice it more as a result of social media and getting exposed to so much all at once. And sometimes we don’t pay much attention to what is happening around us until something occurs in our immediate environment and we get a wake-up call.
As Marianne Williamson says, our lives are defined by the laws of the world we believe in. That is, if we believe that this physical reality is all there is then our life is ruled by the laws that govern this world. But if we believe that there is a greater reality of which we are part, of which only Love underlines each and every incidence, then our daily life will be ruled by those divine and spiritual laws.
When there is tragedy as in a shooting of a young person, a stabbing of a spouse, the murder of a baby, there are no words that can express or console the grief. Because it is something insane. No one in the right mind could do such thing. And there is not a way to deal with this kind of insanity.
There is not a way to deal with any of the insanities that go on around the world right now. If someone was to pay continuous attention to the terrors and the genocides, s/he would very quickly develop serious anxiety and depression disorders.
This is why often individuals who go through such traumatic experiences snap out. Our nervous system does not have the capacity to process the magnitude of these stimuli, and the people who are exposed to continuous long-term relevant stressors without any support, may develop mental imbalances.
If someone is sensitive and with little tolerance for drama, s/he should not be watching the daily news.
What I find fascinating to observe is that 10 and 15 years ago in my psychology and stress management practice, the stressors I would see were mainly about work performance, relationship breakup, anxiety from overworking and not having personal time, and psychosomatic illnesses.
Nowadays, and I think in US it became more evident after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash, on top of these personal stressors we have the added society and world stressors, which worsen our response and handling of daily reality.
Our assessment of what is ours, what is not, of what we can do with X versus with Y, is impaired and our discernment is clouded. And this has led to the epidemic of mental illness with many symptoms that in the past were labeled only as stress, now being added to the medical mental health disorders’ list.
In handling human tragedies, there is a period of grief, a period of wondering what the heck was that about, of questioning God and all creation. And even though no one (but you) can say how long this will last, you must be conscious of the tipping point. The ego mind will capture and imprison you in a scenario that offers no answers but provides room for continuous pain, anxiety and mental disturbance.
Eventually you must turn to a greater truth, to a greater explanation if there is such, to understand and soothe the bleeding heart. You have to give-up and surrender your feelings to a greater support system that can hold the intensity.
If you have a spiritual practice, if you believe in God, the Universe, whatever the appropriate name is for you, the journey to acceptance is to be made alongside this divinity. There is no other way.
What is also important to consider is that we are not alone in our grief and puzzlement. The people involved in the tragedy are also in the same place we are in. Praying for them, that they may be supported and bathed in love and compassion whether they have departed this physical plane or not, is healing for everyone.
Sometimes the only way we can actually help the situation is by praying for others who may not be in the right mind or emotional state to do so. Praying in that way also connects us with our life purpose of being a beam of light, compassion and love in this world.