2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Tsunami of Grief:

How to Respond When No Response Seems Appropriate

By Larry Stoler, Ph.D
WholeHealth Chicago Integrative Clinical Psychologist

The news that 20 elementary school children and seven adults were murdered in a Newtown, Connecticut, school spread through our offices like wildfire. We’re all still coping with grief, shock, disbelief, and outrage. Our hearts reach out to the families whose children were killed and to all who lost loved ones. Among the things we know for sure is that when a tragedy like this strikes, a wave of grief and loss envelopes people near and far even as the heartbreak re-opens old wounds in some with no direct connection to the Newtown families.

I’d like to share some thoughts about dealing with this unimaginable news and its aftermath. But first a word about context. The idea that an armed young man can break into a school and kill so many is shocking and terrible. That this took place in an elementary school in an upper middle class white suburb threatens to dismantle the notion of safety for many people, and yet in many of our cities it’s part of everyday life. Children are killed by gunfire near schools, on their front steps, walking down the street with their friends, even attending the funerals of loved ones who were murdered.

This is the world we are creating.

Thankfully, many of us don’t have to personally deal with such tragedies regularly, or ever. But we do have to cope with the impact of learning about such events, and we need to know how to respond. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Stop and observe your breath. This connects you to your life force, and ultimately to all of life. Share this skill with your children.
  • Allow yourself to fully experience the feelings you’re having. Feel what’s happening in your body. Next observe your thoughts, opinions, and interpretations, being a kind and compassionate observer of these feelings. Then set them aside for the moment.
  • Now remind yourself of the beauty in the world. Look at the face of someone you love, appreciating in a new way the beauty of who they are. Remember a beautiful place in nature that you’ve visited or seen a picture of…or actually get yourself out into nature. Surround yourself with this beauty.
  • Once you’ve gathered yourself in this way, you’ll be better prepared to respond to those around you.

Here are some ideas on responding to your children’s concerns:

  • Begin by really listening to the questions and comments they have. What is it they’re truly concerned about? Younger children may be worried about you and your upset, and they usually want concrete reassurance that their home, school, and teachers are safe.You can tell them they are safe. You can also tell them you feel sad for those who are suffering right now.
  • Your children may experience nightmares or have trouble sleeping. These are natural responses and usually pass. In general, support your children in their own feelings and reactions.  Hug them and tell them you love them.  Encourage them to express themselves through drawing or dance.
  • Children (and most adults) aren’t prepared to deal with a constant stream of bad news. And yet many of us permit ourselves to be bombarded with disturbing information, especially after a horrifying event like the school shootings. Remember that even young children hear the radio, TV, and computer (including when they’re in another room). Make a choice to turn off the news and turn on some beautiful music. Or, simply listen to the quiet.
  • Older children often have their own access to news through phone or computer, the information streaming in from their friends via social media not always reliable and often not comforting. This is a good time to teach your children about the hazards of overexposure to social media and a constant barrage of news. Set an example by not constantly leaving on your phone, radio, TV, or computer in order to limit the amount of bad news coming into your life.
  • Alongside this terrible tragedy, help all your children grasp the bigger picture, the powerful healing response pouring in from all over. Look for stories about this and share them with your children. Encourage them to write down their thoughts or to write their own stories. Light a candle.
  • Finally, look for actions you and your family can take to help others.

Leave a Comment


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops

**Pain Relief with Myofascial Balls
Tuesday, October 29, 6-8pm
With Renee Zambo, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist

Course Fee: $65.00
(includes WholeHealth Chicago Myofascial Release Kit, $40 value)

Does that same spot in your neck, shoulders, back or hips seem to bother you every day? Do you have joint aches and pains in the hands and feet? Would you like to learn ways to alleviate that pain and tension?

Join WholeHealth Chicago’s Yoga and Movement Therapist Renee Zambo for an evening of muscle tension release with myofascial therapy balls.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Please register online.
Call the Center for additional information at (773) 296-6700
More>>

Recent Health Tips

  • To A Long and Healthy Life!

    You may have read earlier this summer about the public health statisticians who announced that Chicagoans could get a reasonable estimate about how long they’ll live based on their neighborhood, sort of a Death by Zip Code. If you live in Streeterville, you’ve got a good chance to reach 90. If you’re struggling in Englewood, you’re lucky to hit 60. That gap, by the way, Read More

  • Dandruff, Fungi, and Cancer of the Pancreas

    It’s an eye-catching title, I’ll admit. But the links are quite real and further research may guide medicine in new directions of cancer prevention and treatment. It all starts in your gut microbiome, the totality of microorganisms–bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi–present in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, mouth to anus. Until recently, researchers and clinical physicians alike paid virtually no attention to the microbiome and the Read More

  • New Hope For Sinus Sufferers

    When osteopath Dr. Rob Ivker moved to Colorado in the 1980s to set up his family practice, he had no idea that when he stepped off the plane he’d succumb to symptoms of chronic sinusitis that just wouldn’t go away: stuffy nose, thick mucus, pressure behind his cheekbones and above his eyebrows, dull aching headache, and thick goopy drainage in the back of his throat. Read More

October Sale – Save 20% off UltraMeal Rice

UltraMeal RICE is a tasty, non-dairy, nutritionally fortified, powdered meal replacement for those who want to support healthy body composition but may be sensitive to soy.

Click here to take advantage of this month’s promotion!