We have navigated many public losses, from Paris to Orlando to Nice. Some people are very empathetic and feel these losses deeply. Even though they may not have personally known those who died or were injured, they feel the Oneness that we are all connected, that individual choices and experiences affect all of us.
For many, it is easier to feel solidarity with the victims, not the perpetrators or their families, but loss is loss and we are, generally speaking, fairly compassionate, as well as resilient. Some people note these tragedies and continue on, thinking they are relatively unchanged or unaffected as long as their immediate family, friends and world are not directly inconvenienced or imprinted. They may hold their loved ones a little closer, or may make contributions of their time, energy and money through vetted organizations. They may feel compelled to pray, create memorials or provide practical assistance. They may do nothing. Others say they are just going to stop watching or listening to the news; that is how they cope with bereavement overload or what they perceive as too much bad or sad news. They feel the need to filter, block or be in denial.
I am reminded of the saying that you can view the glass as half full or half empty, referring to an optimistic or pessimistic outlook. I have heard additional comments, such as “Some people don’t even have a glass.” Or, “If my glass is half empty, I just add more wine.” These comments highlight different perspectives and the role that humor can play in navigating loss and trauma. Even when we are looking at the same thing, we see or perceive things differently, based on our experiences and the lens through which we look. Every life and every death matters.
I am not in denial about the challenges and the violence in our world, but I am also mindful of the loving kindness and compassion that are always present as well. I reflect on the challenges that my ancestors navigated and I am deeply grateful and respectful. It is my choice to remain hopeful, to speak out, to take action and to do what I can to make positive contributions to our world.
Marguerite O’Connor, M.Ed., Experienced Funeral Celebrant