Breathing Through Heartbreak

I wrote posts after the Newtown shootings, and the Boston bombing.  I’ve written before about coping with the senseless, random bad stuff in life.  And I’ve written about my own experiences with pain and grief.  But the truth is, nothing prepares you for senseless hatred in your backyard.  Even though I don’t have a personal connection to any of the families who are grieving after yesterday’s attack in a Kansas City suburb, the fact that it happened, in my home town, still floors me.  The fact that there are people here, in our community, who are still rooted enough in an ethos of hatred and bigotry that we wish had faded decades ago that they are willing to kill others to express that hatred is chilling.

I’m struggling for words.

This is so close to home. I have clients and friends who exercise at that community center.  I have clients and friends who are members of our Jewish community here in town.  I have clients and friends who are members of the Methodist congregation that lost two of its members to this act of hatred.  I shopped over there last Friday.

And when I find myself in that place of being afraid, angry, shocked, and wanting to say, “but that doesn’t happen here,”–I have to return to my own foundations.  I don’t have lots of wise words to offer, just a reminder to myself about what helps.

I am taking lots of deep breaths.

I am reminding myself that acts of horror and hatred are rare–there is a reason this makes headlines.

I am connecting with people I care about and reaffirming my values.

I am choosing light and love and connection–because only these things will counteract senseless hatred.

And I am making room to be heartbroken.  To grieve over children without a mother, parents without a child or his grandfather, over the loss of innocence and casual expectation of safety that we had last week.  To let my heart hurt over the fact that, once more, I have be ready to meet my children’s fears with the same reminders I offer myself, that I can’t shelter them from all the darkness that is out there.  To cry my tears and just feel the pain.  Because I don’t want to be a person who isn’t hurt by this.  I want darkness to feel painful–that’s a reminder that I am who I want to be.

So, if you find yourself touched by heartbreak, tragedy, or random bad stuff, I hope that my reminders to myself help you too.

For now, I’m holding the light.

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