How to Cope with the Unimaginable

Dr. Gregory Jones

Coping with this tragedy is incredibly difficult, but as a community we can come together to hold each other up. Terrorism has the ability to make people feel helpless, but we are never helpless.

Pride month is about celebrating our diversity, community, and all that the LGBTQ community has overcome in the fight for equality. No one expected to wake up Sunday morning to the news of a massacre fueled by hatred. The facts coming in over the media were impossible to believe at first; twenty dead, then fifty dead, and fifty-three injured. The deaths of our fellow LGBTQ brothers and sisters is a loss we can not even begin to measure, and one that is impacting all of us. Terrorism is about instilling fear in the daily lives of those it targets. Gay bars and nightclubs have historically been the place to go to feel safe for being who you are, where holding hands, kissing, dancing with someone of the same sex, is not looked down upon, but celebrated. This attack was meant to tear the community up, but as a community we will come together stronger and louder than ever before.

Coping with this tragedy is incredibly difficult, but as a community we can come together to hold each other up. Terrorism has the ability to make people feel helpless, but we are never helpless. Take the opportunity to write your representative about your opinion on gun control or other strongly connected issues, sign petitions showing your support for change, donate blood, donate money to the survivors and the families of those we lost. There will be countless vigils held across the country to mourn those that we have lost, but also to reconnect our community. Take the opportunity to attend to your feelings: journal about your reaction, talk to friends and family, attend the vigils, and remember we are not alone.

Another factor that makes this attack hit closer to home was that it could have been any of us. I myself have been to this nightclub and have a visual engrained in my mind about what it may have been like to be there at the time of the shooting that I will not be able to get rid of. As we celebrate pride at our local parades, bars, nightclubs, festivals, and other related events we are reminded that until we rid the world of hate we are all at risk. Take this opportunity to teach about love, acceptance, and the true spirit of humanity so our children’s’ generation may not have to experience such violence and hate.

Each person we lost in this tragedy has a family, friends, and loved ones who are all going through their grieving process. Each person represented a color of our rainbow and will be greatly missed. As you mourn, please engage in self care: when feeling angry go for a run, when feeling sad reach out to a friend, and when feeling overwhelmed know when to tune out and take a break from social media. Strong emotions are often a call to action, so take action in ways that will honor the victims, and help eliminate messages of hate.

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