Like every one of you, I continue to be deeply touched by the story of great loss in Newtown, Connecticut. I can recall, in our lifetime, only a few tragic events that have had such an effect on so many people.

This terrible and terrifying loss of life and innocence has brought to light a common myth surrounding trauma, crisis, and loss in our society. That myth is “time heals.”

No. It’s what we do in that time that heals us. Do we sit in denial? Do we keep our emotions inside? Or do we do the work of grief and become an active participant in our own healing?

Here are a few tips to help you help yourself and others, including the children in your life:

  • Talk honestly about your feelings and what’s bothering you. Let others talk about their feelings and listen with your heart and whole being. Cry. Remember that there is no single “right way” to mourn and no time limit on mourning. Seek out a good friend to share concerns, views, and questions. If you or someone close to you needs extra help coping, find that help.
  • Think and talk about the good in the world. Acknowledge the way people have come together, shown deep caring, and supported each other. Perhaps we treasure our families and friends just a little bit more. The strength of the human spirit is truly immense, and I have seen people move through and beyond incredibly tragic circumstances.
  • Keep going as best you can. Maintain your routine.  Life had structure before and still does.  If you need a break to think and feel, don’t fight it – make the time. Mourning is done in doses.
  • Devote time to family and friends – and yourself. Give yourself permission to be good to you. Balance work, play, and rest. Exercise, eat balanced, healthy, regular meals without overeating, and get enough sleep. If you can’t sleep, don’t force it, and avoid stimulants like caffeine.

These events change us forever. They bring out our biggest fears and remind us of past losses. There is usually an initial intervention and time of helping, but the effects may continue for a long time. Like a drop into a still pool of water, the ripples spread.

But you can heal. We all can.

Take care, everyone.