Tragedy, grief, loss, and compassion

Human Kind: Be Both.  Compassion!

Human Kind: Be Both. Compassion!

I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t address the events in Boston in this week’s blog, and yet I’m concerned that we’re all a little overloaded with news, and maybe it would be better to take a step back.

I don’t know what is best.  But I do know this: as a human being, a former worker in managing emergencies, and a marathon runner, my heart has been in Boston all week.  Maybe yours has too.

So, let’s talk about how we see the world, which is also talking about how we make sense of life.

Sometimes it is easy to look at the world and see the bad: see that the world is a horrible, mean, and ugly place where human beings do horrible things to one another.  Even if we aren’t doing horrible things to each other, we do things and have attitudes that don’t support each other: we blame others for the situations they’ve put themselves in, but we also blame others for the situations in which we find ourselves.  We ask that others take responsibility for their lives while not taking responsibility for our own lives.  (I know that’s hard to swallow, but it is true – as a society we might look at an overweight person and shame them for not doing something about it, but we also see ourselves put on pounds and blame the food someone made for us, being busy, or having a rough week and needing those comforting calories.)

When we think of the bombs going off at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday and the firefight that occurred between suspects and police last night, it is easy to see the bad in humanity.  When we think of the shooting of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary, it is easy to see the bad in humanity.

Other times it is easy to look at the world and see the good: see that the world is full of beauty, love, compassion, and human beings that will go out of their way to help one another.  This world is full of wonder and opportunities.  We see human beings running towards bombs to help fellow human beings who have been injured.  We see Bostonians opening their homes to stranded marathon runners and visitors unable to get back to their hotels and belongings.  We see police officers risking their lives to protect civilians.

It can be very confusing to try to reconcile these worlds.  Is the world a horrible, mean, sad, and ugly place?  Yes.  Is the world a beautiful, warm, loving, and compassionate place?  Yes.  Do humans do horrible things, and do horrible things happen to people (that we might say they do or don’t “deserve”)?  Yes.  Do humans do wonderful, compassionate things, and do beautiful things happen to people (that we might say they do or don’t “deserve”)?  Yes.

Where does this leave us?

It is tough to know what to do.  We can be angry; we can be sad; we can deny that it is true, but eventually we’ll have to accept that the world is a complicated, painful, and beautiful place – all at the same time.  Because that is true.

Reconciling the world can be even more difficult if we’re questioning our place in it anyways.  Maybe you’re dealing with death, illness, divorce, relationship stress, job loss, job stress, financial stress, addiction, uncertainty, transition.  Maybe you’re wondering who you are anymore.  Maybe you’re feeling lost or wondering what your purpose in life might be.  Maybe you’re experiencing grief and loss over your hopes, dreams, visions of what life would be or what you would be.

Life has been pretty difficult for a lot of people over the last 5 years: we’ve had a recession, job losses, the housing bubble, and bankruptcies galore.  I have to say, I think that what we need in the world is a little more compassion.  Compassion for ourselves to know that we can’t be perfect, and compassion for others to know that they can’t be perfect either.  We still need to take responsibility for our actions and to expect others to take responsibility for their actions, but we can still give ourselves and others the benefit of the doubt.  No one is perfect and we can’t control everything that happens to us, just how we respond to what happens to us.  Sometimes we all just need a little help, encouragement, and compassion.

If you’d like some  help reconciling your complex, painful, beautiful world or if you are dealing with any type of grief, loss, or stress and want a partner in moving forward, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando at 407-355-7378.  Our experienced counselors, psychologists, and life coaches are here to guide you and give you the support you need on your journey.

With compassion, Krista