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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, April 20, 2007

Collective Grief by Diane Gaston Perkins

In this month's Ask Dr. Debra, Dr. Debra tells how to deal with the grief of a loss of a pet. She made the point that this grief was perfectly human and understandable, and that the emotions around such a loss are common for any of us who have lost a pet.

This week in Virginia, we have had to deal with a different type of loss, the loss of 33 lives, most of them so very young, on a sleepy college campus nestled in the Shenandoah Mountains. I have been lucky in that I've not known any of those precious lives lost, lucky that my son attends a different Virginia college, but this loss seems much too close to home. I've been experiencing a sort of collective grief, a grief mainly consisting of acute empathy for the victims and their families. In Virginia we've had way too much experience with this sort of collective grief. On 9/11 a plane hit the Pentagon, just a few miles from where I worked. Then the Sniper hit and more victims fell while merely going about the ordinary tasks of life. The Virginia Tech shootings seem so terribly tragic for the loss of young lives just on the verge of making their mark in the world. How much potential have we lost?

Of course, the collective grief of this week is not confied to Virginia. People all over the world are looking at the photos of the victims, reading about their last moments and weeping as I have done.

I'm sure Dr. Debra would advise that this sort of grief is normal, built of empathy and compassion. I think it is important to acknowledge the feelings, to readily say this was a lousy week, to be sad. To care. I also know that each person must take care of themselves. One can see or hear coverage of this tragedy 24 hours a day. It is best to limit the viewing, to get relief from the pain of it all and to go about daily life as you need to do. It is also okay to do something enjoyable (like read a romance novel!) to escape the collective grief.

If anyone who reads this has been personally touched by this tragedy, my tears are for you. All our tears are for you. We do care. And like the students who have been so affected by these events, we wrap our arms around each other in a collective hug and comfort ourselves--and you--as best we can.



At 9:00 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I refuse to spend one second reading about or watching the killer on t.v.

What a waste of lives. I am only going to read about and remember the victims. What wonderful people we lost. Sweet, caring, ambitious. I know other things need to be discussed to prevent these events from happening in the future, but other than that, I wish the news would focus only on the good things these people did while they were alive and let the professionals figure out the rest, like why the guy did what he did.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the parents and friends of all the people we lost.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

I agree, Theresa! One good thing, the press are being chastised by their audience for focusing on the killer. Maybe finally some of their practices will change because of this.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Judy T said...

Thank you for the post, Diane, (and the link to the article) and your comment Theresa.

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

As the mother of two college students on two different campuses in two different states, this tragedy hit close to home, too. We worry about our kids when they're away from home, but we shouldn't have to worry about them when they're in their classroooms.

My heart goes out to the families of those killed. Beautiful kids with promising futures, loving families--all gone at the hands of a madman.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

I think it shows that at the very base of things, we're all connected. We feel pain and sorrow for people we didn't even know. It's nearly impossible not to look at the photos of all those smiling faces and weep at their loss.


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