Uniting In The Face Of Tragedy

The last few days were rough! It seems like everywhere we turned, there were images and reports of another black man being killed at the hands of the cops. I was agitated for the entire week and knew it had a lot to do with the atmosphere. Every time I logged on to social media there was a post or article from someone buzzing about the happenings, so I realized I had to give up social media after a couple days because my heart could not handle it and I needed to channel positivity. I was growing more angst with each post and without a real outlet for my frustration, I feared where my mind would lead me. I found solace in knowing that many others shared the same feeling; I felt a unity of some kind. I was not alone.

The reality of last week is that we cannot escape the grief that comes when someone loses their life. The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile set grief in motion and along with it a collective experience of loss on three different levels. Personally, we are empathetically grieving for the wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and offspring of these fallen martyrs. As a nation we grieve in unison for our black community who yet again are being disenfranchised by the enormity of these senseless killings. On a global level, our family and friends in other countries are concerned for our safety living here in America. People everywhere are grasping for some kind of understanding, but the real tragedy are the little ones in our midst who have to bear witness to these crazy atrocities taking place on a too oft basis.

Most of us are lucky to be able to grieve in private but when the subject of a killing is a national topic, everything that follows is public and the real victims — the families of the fallen — have no choice but to experience their losses openly.

Someone asked who is going to comfort Diamond Reynold’s daughter who saw her relative executed. Who is going to ease her confusion of having witnessed such a heinous act? Who is going to explain to her that the nightmares she may have over the course of the next few months/years cannot be wiped away, even if the cops responsible do the time for these crimes? There is nothing we can do to take this nightmare away from her. And what of Alton Sterling’s kids? Who is going to comfort them as they search for an explanation as to why their Daddy is never coming home.

These are events we don’t see coming, they are unexpected and so every time they occur, we are caught off guard; not something we can ever be fully prepared for.

On a more positive note though, the nation is united because in our hearts we feel a sense of togetherness as we feel the pain for each of these women; so we mourn together, in part because we are sympathetic but also because we know that it could be any one of us should something go wrong during the next traffic stop.

This is surely no way to live but we can take a great lesson from these tragedies.

We have unity NOW! We had it last week, two days ago, we had it yesterday and will have it tomorrow. We will have it if another black man is murdered for no apparent reason and the perpetrators walk free.

But what about if it never happens again? Do we go back to our regularly scheduled lives OR do we continue to fight for justice so that our young kids will be protected and can remain so, regardless of color or race.

So what can we do in our own personal spaces in an attempt to deal with these losses? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Subdue anxiety. Being anxious sometimes causes reactions that are premature and not well thought out. Take the time to find positive outlets to relieve your pent up anger and frustration. I find writing to be a great outlet!

2. Do not forget. Recognize that these occurrences can be used as a spring board to find healing. As a nation, we are hurting, but if we can continue the consciousness long enough to help heal another, then we are on the right path.

3. Protect the kids. The loss of innocence is so fast in these times, our kids are being forced to deal with adult situations long before they are mentally capable or ready. Be mindful that their eyes are on us constantly and we as adults set the pace for them to follow. Remember, they are the future!

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