By now, you know the news: Osama bin Laden is no more. Whether he died in a blazing gunfight or was taken out by surprise (the reports are a little vague here), Seal Team 6 completed their mission.
And for some people, that completed mission was cause for celebration. Last Sunday evening and Monday morning, American flags were hoisted into the air, people stood out on the streets cheering and the internet was buzzing with elation. If you owned a Twitter or Facebook account, you saw it.
I certainly did. In fact, I learned about bin Laden’s death before the President even announced it: I was Facebook chatting with the very friend who was sitting next to me almost 10 years ago when the twin towers came down and suddenly, status updates were exploding.
“I think Osama bin Laden was just shot,” I typed to my friend who had been in the same English classroom on September 11th, who had rushed to the phone at the same time as me, our fathers both frequent passengers on that particular flight across the US, “I can’t be sure but Facebook is freaking out.”
“What? Really?! Wait let me check…”
She disappeared for a few minutes, most probably catching the newly blossoming story on Twitter. By the time she signed back on to Facebook, we were both fully updated on the latest news.
“It’s weird…” she typed later, as we waited for Obama to address the nation, “I was talking to you right before the towers came down… and now this. My head is having a hard time putting stuff together.”
My friend’s reaction — a deer in the headlights hesitancy over bin Laden’s death — is not the loudest reaction being reported by the news media, but it’s definitely here, hanging over many of us like a thick fog. While it seems like something we should be jubilant about, many of us are having a hard time understanding what this man’s death actually means.
This contemplation has not been lost on our bloggers here at Psych Central, and while it’s not always easy to take a quieter emotional stance on something the media is urging us to scream and shout about, this week, a few of them have done just that. If you’re finding yourself a bit at odds with the news of Osama’s death, perhaps these thoughtful posts will help you realize that being conflicted over the death of a mass murderer — and what that death means for our future as Americans — is perfectly normal.
The Death of Bin Laden: Looking Backwards to Heal Forwards from Healing Together For Couples
Instead of picking apart the events that occurred early this week, Suzanne Philips uses this post to reach out to those who may feel incredibly triggered by the events, whether because they are still dealing with the aftermath of September 11th, or simply with other trauma.
On The Death of A Mass Murderer from Therapy Soup
In Richard Zwolinski’s opinion, Osama gave up his “normative human status” when he became a killer, and US forces had a right to stop him, “permanently.” But celebrating a death, and understanding that it had to be done, are two very different things.
Osama Bin Laden is Dead: A Mindful Response from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy
Elisha Goldstein’s take on bin Laden’s death is something I can personally relate to – it’s not he and I don’t think what the military did was right, it’s the idea of celebrating death, really, anyone’s death, that makes us uneasy. Will bin Laden’s death bring back the people he killed, or ease the suffering of those who lost loved ones? Most of us want to believe it – but the truth is that a man’s death, no matter how fitting, cannot reverse his deeds.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 May 2013
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Digiacinto, J. (2011). Psych Central Roundup: The Death of Osama bin Laden. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/05/04/psych-central-roundup-the-death-of-osama-bin-laden/