While the police are still sifting through the clues for information about who was behind the Boston Marathon 2013 bombings on Boylston St., it’s time for the rest of us to take a deep breath and start healing from this tragedy. With over 100 people injured — some quite seriously — and three people dead, that healing is going to take some time.
Other countries have long had to deal with seemingly random bombings in urban areas; the U.S. is relatively late to this particular brand of horror. I’m not sure how one ever gets used to the idea that by just going shopping or watching a parade or sporting event, something really bad could happen.
But life carries on — we cannot stop living out of fear.
With the prevalence of always-on media, it’s tempting to keep updated when tragedies like this strike by monitoring the news 24/7. But that would be a mistake, as we become overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of information (at first), and then the agonizingly slow trickle of new information (later on).
But there are some things you can do to help yourself — and others.
Elvira G. Aletta, Ph.D., for instance, had these helpful suggestions after the Newtown, CT shootings:
- Share in our humanity. Highly sensitive people (and who among us is not?) feel empathy profoundly. Just because it has not happened to us directly does not mean we do not grieve. Even from a great distance we are sensitive to the depth of loss. Cry, be sad. Allow grief to happen. Then wash your face, breathe deeply and allow life to happen, too.
- Turn off the radio, television, step away from the computer and put down the newspaper. Allow yourself the space to adjust to the news at your pace, not theirs.
- Do good. I do not mean make a donation or give blood. Although all that is good, there is more we can do. I mean what Chris said in a comment he left on my blog the day of the shooting, let us out-grace one another. Let us look for opportunities to act with kindness. Pay forward the kindness received from others. Let us breathe in the healing love and goodness in the universe and breathe out the poison.
- Stop the hate. Now that I’ve breathed out the hate I am hopeful I can let it go.
These are still helpful suggestions today. I would also add:
- Talk about it. Get together, face-to-face, with some friends or family members to share in your grief, or just the need to talk. Spending more time with others helps reinforce those emotional and social bonds that help us feel safe and secure.
- Engage in self-care. Now is not the time to challenge yourself to start a new diet, or challenge some habit or behavior you’ve been meaning to change. Instead, ensure you are getting your emotional needs met — ask for a hug, give a hug. Let others know what you need, and take the time you need to keep yourself together.
- Volunteer. While the Red Cross in Boston isn’t in need of blood donations right now, they will again in a few weeks. Commit to helping by giving blood, or donating in some other way that can help the victims of this tragedy (or even a recent tragedy closer to your own home or local community).
Our hearts and prayers go out to those who were injured or lost a loved one in the Boston Marathon bombings.