When I saw my daughter’s question on facebook after the Boston Marathon Bombing last week, I knew she was expressing a universal feeling of sadness and anxiety about the world we now live in. I knew she was worrying about the safety of the world my 4-year-old grandson is growing up in. As a Bostonian, I know that globalization has changed every aspect of our lives — from the clothes we buy and the food we eat, to the multi-cultural society we inhabit, and the diverse, and often divergent, values and beliefs that wreak havoc on our sense of security.

I have several clients who were running the race, as well as others with family members living in Watertown, where the “shoot-out” was taking place, who were terrified about their safety. Although I tried to text and call them on my cell phone, I later learned on TV that satellite service had been shut down. There was no way to reach them. Being accustomed to the sense of connection our multiple technology devises have given us, I was disconnected! I felt powerless and helpless to reassure myself that everyone was okay.

The bombing brought a heightened sense of insecurity right to my back door. It has shaken up people all over the city and the country. Another sacred tradition has been assaulted; more lives lost or shattered by serious injuries. And, we know, it’s the families, the survivors, who have to confront the greatest challenges of adjusting to a “new normal” without their loved one.

Feeling safe and secure is a basic human need. We try to instill it in our children from birth. As a grief counselor, I try to help survivors restore some sense of safety in their world. But safety is not absolute; it is not a ‘given,’ as we assumed in the past.

The only certainty we have is that we can be safe in the love we have for others. The bombing in Boston, and the recent shootings in Newtown, Aurora, Texas and elsewhere throughout the country, must remind us that life is precious and that we are all connected in our humanity as a community. Let us all remind ourselves that our purpose and meaning is to celebrate those we love, and make the most of each moment of every day we have!


Susan Berger

Susan A. Berger, LICSW, Ed.D. has extensive experience counseling individuals confronting the death of loved ones and other life changes. Drawing on research results and anecdotes gathered from the bereaved over the past ten years, Berger examined how a person’s worldview is affected by major loss. She wrote her book, The Five Ways We Grieve, finding your path to healing after the loss of a loved one, (Trumpeter Books, 2009) to assist professionals, and survivors and the general public understand the lifelong impact of loss on the bereaved. She founded The Center for Loss, Bereavement, and Healing in Framingham, MA, a clinical practice, helping individuals, couples and families cope with life stresses. She also provides workshops on her unique approach to lifelong grieving to professionals, such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses and hospices, as well as presentations to community groups. She has published articles in professional and trade publications, as well as many media, including The Washington Post on mental health, substance abuse, health and human resources topics. She has also been cited nationally in numerous print and broadcast media, and has spoken at many conferences and workshops throughout the country. Previous experience includes academic appointments at Emmanuel College, Northeastern University, Merrimack College, and MassBay Community College. Dr. Berger earned her Doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Boston University. To enhance her expertise in the area of loss and bereavement, she earned a Certificate in Thanatology (Death, Dying & Bereavement) from the National Center for Death Education at Mt. Ida College in Newton, MA. Dr. Berger has volunteered as a hospice volunteer working with the dying and bereaved families. She is herself the survivor of early parental loss.

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