Coping With the Heartbreak of Mass Shootings

By Jami and Marla Keller

We have been feeling heartbroken over the tragic news of the recent mass shootings that brought 2019’s total in the United States to two hundred and fifty fatal events. It is overwhelming, these traumatic shootings that are now part of our society. The question is, “what can we do?” First and foremost we must feel this pain. We have been practicing this feeling stuff for over twenty-five years and yet we still have difficulty sorting out our feelings of such devastating and unnecessary trauma It is shocking, frustrating, and confusing. How do we stop this?

The Director of the FBI testified in Congress recently that there have been more than 100 arrests over the last year as they look at domestic terrorism. He also stated there are two profiles: 1) Jihadists motivated by Muslim extremists and 2) domestic white men that are motivated by racist hate. And yet the problem persists and most often it is online groups promoting violence on racial lines. We are up against the lowest form of superiority (insecurity in disguise) and ignorance.

It seems likely that this is an outgrowth of the suicide rates that have increased by nearly thirty percent in all age groups since 2008. Can you guess what significant event that happened in 2008? It was the year the first iPhone came out. It could very well be a coincidence but it is clear that our society has become more disconnected, whatever the reason. What we experience in our practice is that this disconnect is creating more anxiety and depression nationwide. In the extreme, this anxiety and depression look to be leaning more and more towards suicidal violence.
How to respond? First, we must forgive the pain and hurt we all suffer at the hands of the misguided and suicidal actions of these fearful and isolated men. Forgiveness requires that we feel the hurt and pain of what is lost, stolen, broken and/or neglected. Then, and only then, we must choose to forgive, and forgiveness is always a choice before it is a feeling.

The answer is community. This practice of forgiveness allows us the energy and motivation to connect with those around us. Then, as a group, we must learn to identify the isolated and hurting people in our local environment. Forgiveness also allows our intuition to grow into awareness when something isn’t right. It also has the side benefit of decreasing stress, and if we all have decreased stress the world can’t help but become a better place.

Our communal next steps will become evident as the natural path of community will be stronger connections and awareness. We must learn to feel and forgive before any other measures will provide any real results. Forgiveness is never “done.” It is an ongoing process and as each of us move in this direction our capacity to connect with the depressed, passively suicidal, potentially violent people becomes more natural. In this way, we can prevent more violence and destruction.

We are devastated. These disasters are shattering so many lives and shocking communities across the nation. And we are using our tools to create connected communities because one thing we know well is that we can do more if we band together. Join us, and together we can make a difference.