Key 2: Altered Perceptions

Grief, Healing, and Regaining Your Balance in the Aftermath of Violence

Grief, Healing, and Regaining Your Balance in the Aftermath of Violence

Grief, healing and regaining your balance in the aftermath of violence is our focus today. Taking a look at Enchanted Key #2 to Altered Perceptions, we can begin to heal and empower ourselves in the wake of the Florida High School shootings.

grief, healing, violence, fear, hopelessness, anxiety

Violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas  High School

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 innocent victims were gunned down by a former student who returned to the school to execute a rampage of violence. Students, teachers and a coach were killed. The violence, itself, however, has affected hundreds of others directly involved as well as everyone who has heard the story and was deeply affected.

The Aftermath

As photos of the victims and their grieving families are released, the depth of pain is intensified. Images of these individuals become emblazoned in our hearts and minds. The emotional pain is felt in the physical body and feelings of sadness, despair, helplessness, hopelessness and anger surface.


Most of you are familiar with Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ acronym for the five stages of grief.

They are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. The path is not linear and equal time is not spent on each phase.

Denial is the disbelief that something like this could happen…again. It’s the cognitive dissonance that challenges us to make it fit, somehow into our framework, when it doesn’t.

Anger is the natural response to such injustice and pain inflicted on innocent victims.

Bargaining phase seems to be the most confusing for people. It actually represents the stage of “if only…” It’s as if we bargain with the other possibilities that would have resulted in a different outcome. “If only they had blocked him from entering the school…” The end of the bargaining sentences include the words: “…then this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.”

Depression is felt when the reality of a traumatic event is felt and realized. There is a sinking despair that is visceral. You might experience the feeling of a broken heart, deep sadness in your chest, crying, fatigue, sleepiness, and a downward pull on your muscles. Ability to think clearly or focus can be impaired.

Acceptance is not the final stage because these feelings can run on a loop over a long period of time. Acceptance means that you are no longer in denial and are working through your range of feelings, in an attempt to return to “normal.”

What’s Next

As you begin to move through this process, gently acknowledge the phase you’re in. Be kind to yourself as you honor where you are in the process. Be still with where you are.

Techniques For Healing

To best use the Key to Altered Perceptions, ask yourself these questions. “What do I need in order to alter how I’m feeling?” For instance, you may need extra sleep at this time, in order to process and support the emotional toll on your physical body. Maybe you need to be in the presence of friends and loved ones. You may need to immerse yourself in the soothing waters of a bath or the ocean. Perhaps you need to pray alone or with your community. You might want to talk about it to a mental health professional. Release guilt for having joyful feelings or experiences in the midst of your grief. My Place of Peace Meditation can help.

There is also Nick Ortner’s EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique,) a powerful tool for recalibrating your body, mind, and spirit.

After the Healing

Following the phases of healing that bring you back to a place of balance in which you can perform your daily routines, feel more in charge of your emotions, and can acknowledge and validate your ongoing fears and feelings, then you can turn your attention to actions of empowerment.

What You Can Do

You may experience feelings of helplessness for what could not be done to avert the tragedy. Instead, become aware of a desire to take positive action to help alleviate pain or change the outcome of future incidents. Your actions might be politically-based, lobbying to have specific laws passed, or they may result in efforts in your community to put safety measures in place. Allow your creativity to expand your ideas on how you can be a part of the change you’d like to see.

Seek Help If You Or Someone You Know, Needs It

In the meantime, remember that we are all in this together and help is available. If you or someone you know needs help, please seek it. Talk to school or university counselors, ask your medical doctor for a referral, call a local hospital for a referral, connect with your clergy and/or refer to these links, below. I’m not affiliated with these organizations but their resources are available to all.


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