Some will need to talk about it, and keep talking about it. They won't be able to help themselves. It was so hard to take in what they endured. They'll say things like, "It was surreal" "It was like a movie" "I couldn't believe it was happening." They'll catch themselves forgetting momentarily, "like it was a nightmare, but I can't wake up from it."
They need caring companions who listen.
Others will need to not talk about it. No words can describe the horror they encountered and the broken sacredness they feel.
They need caring companions who stand alongside to silently mourn together.
Mass shootings remind survivors, near and far, of what's happened before, and the need to mourn again together. Perhaps they experienced another mass shooting, or an act of community or domestic violence. Perhaps they are a veteran of a war or active duty.
Both because of what's remembered and also what has newly transpired, the community needs to mourn together in vigils or services that allow both for words through prayers, singing, and words of lament, as well as non-verbal ways of expressing sorrow including dance, lighting candles, sharing a moment of silence, and quiet rituals.
Mass shootings remind survivors, near and far, of what remains to be done. At ICTG, we talk a lot about relying on "the basics" of self care and group care during times of trial.
Building or rebuilding these practices in times of peace help you process what's happened and prepare well for the next crisis. Here are some helpful ways of practicing self-care and community care:
- Self Care – eat well, exercise regularly, get regular sleep, and practice nourishing faithfulness.
- Relational Care – create rhythms of interacting with people who care about you and who you care about every 2-3 hours. This may include family or household meals, playing sports, learning from teachers, going on dates, sharing in fellowship, attending worship, or other leisure activities with friends or family.
- Professional Care – be acquainted with reliable pastoral counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals for your own care and to make referrals for people around you who are in need of acute care
- Community Care – build relationships with your neighbors and community leaders by expressing kindness and genuine concern for others' well-being. Here's an example of how to care for your community first responders:
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