For the past few weeks I’ve met with clients experiencing profound dread and sadness about the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11. What has compounded it has been the onslaught of terrible news about extreme flooding in the Northeast, wildfires and widespread loss of homes in Texas, the tragic plane crash in Russia, the Seven Eleven slaughter, the rising suicide rate in Japan, and many, many other reports of horrific events and developments.
In the case of the 9/11 anniversary, we can at least take solace in the solidarity of national grieving and memorials. We validate each other around the pain and loss. Together we prepare for the “anniversary effect” – revisiting the traumatic images and memories imprinted in our brains. We unite in the healing process. We try to make sense of what happened.
Unfortunately, we’re left to our own defenses around the other daily, tragic events. Clients and friends say they feel helpless, alone, and increasingly anxious in an unsafe world.
There is no magic formula for dealing with all this. Even people of deep religious faith feel profoundly tested in the face of such daily tragedy. What helps me is to surround myself with love, to remind myself of the essential goodness of people, and the joys of life. I also focus on the small things I can do, to mitigate against feelings of helplessness regarding all the trauma. Going into meaningful action, being present in the grace of the moment, and making heartfelt connections, are my medicines for staying sturdy in such turbulent times. But it’s also helpful to honor the grief and sadness, and sometimes just cry.