Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, sickness, mass shootings, threats of nuclear war, corruption, and what seems like a constant overabundance of disregard for suffering people. There is so much in the world today causing me to feel so despaired, so broken and sometimes so hopeless. It’s too much even when I try to stay away from the news. Every bad news report is like a grenade thrown at my already wounded heart. I know the world has always been riddled with suffering, and yet grief (plus age, maybe) has brought clarity. I SEE suffering more now. I FEEL the hurt of others more now. And I think I HURT for people a little more now.
In some ways I think this is the gift grief brings. Because I’ve hurt, I’m able to better care for others who are hurting. Because I’ve suffered, I’m more in tune with the suffering of others. Because I’ve lost, I better understand others afflicted with loss. But this can certainly take a beating on my emotional endurance. It’s suffocating, actually.
I’m trying extra hard to care for myself right now. In order to do that, sometimes solitude is necessary. Sometimes it means I have to seek laughter and joy with all my might. It doesn’t mean I’m not still hurting, still grieving, still burdened by all of it. I’m just trying to lighten the heaviness inside of me.
Yesterday I posted pictures of myself in all of my pre-teen/teenage glory on my Facebook page. I needed to laugh, even at my own expense. It helped. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to the hurting people. I wasn’t ignoring yesterday’s tragedies. Trust me, I am constantly thinking of the suffering going on all around me.
So much of what’s happening in our world is triggering to my personal grief (and I’m not talking about my mullet or first perm, although that was a little triggering too). The level of sadness we see on TV and read about in the news causes most people to mourn. But it’s like an oil drill for grievers. It digs deep down inside of me, causing the grief I thought I’d healed to come bubbling to the surface once again. It makes me relive painful memories; experience sorrow I thought I’d tamed, and become overwhelmed by my own resurfaced pain as I witness the suffering of others.
The scene from Las Vegas yesterday was a grief trigger.
The images from Puerto Rico have been a grief trigger.
Even Gman’s Cub Scout visit to our local fire station last weekend was a trigger.
Ambulances, fire trucks, bleeding, terrified, crying people. They catapult my mind back to the day my husband died. Suddenly, the scene in my mind is fresh again, which causes the emotions from that day to swell to the surface. No matter what I do, I can’t stop that terrible day from playing on loop in my mind. That’s the one day I wish I could erase from my memory, and yet it’s the one memory that won’t fade.
I can remember almost everything from that day. I remember how joyful the day began, which was completely in contrast to how the rest of the day unfolded. My thoughts, my emotions, who was in the room, the decisions before us….I remember it all, and I hate it. The smell of the hospital, what the strangers in the ICU waiting area looked like, the look on the doctor’s faces and the sound of their voices. I remember every detail.
Viewing images of other people’s terror, chaos, pain and grief take me back to my own.
I don’t know if this is normal, but I’m guessing that I’m not alone. I don’t know if these kinds of events will always trigger me, or if it’s just right now. Hopefully, with more practice, the world’s tragedies won’t elicit so much anxiety and emotional response. But right now, a year and a half later, it’s still hard to witness so much sadness, tragedy and suffering without a PTSD-like response.
If the world news has been triggering you lately too, I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to take care of yourself. Join me in unplugging for a little bit so we can catch our breath. We can’t help ourselves or other people if we don’t practice self-care. When we’re bombarded with other people’s suffering on top of our own, it can smother us. That doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means we need a time-out to recuperate. We need to put on our own oxygen mask first before we can help someone else.
Finally, I want to remind myself (and you) that there IS hope! And this is where I find mine.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:6-18
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. – Psalm 3:2-6
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:17 (NIV)
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. — Romans 5:2-5 (NIV).
Praying for you, praying for me, and praying for all those suffering. Thankful we have hope.
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