Letters from the Editor: Coping mechanisms
The problem with grief is that everyone copes differently; shoving your nose into someone else’s grief will likely do more harm than good.
I sat at my computer all week trying to come up with something to say about the shooting in Nevada. At one point I had a 450 word draft awaiting edits for a few days. Ultimately I took this draft back on Saturday night and deleted it entirely.
Survivors, family members, friends, or other affected parties aren’t going to need my opinion on what happened or my advice on how to move forward: my opinions shouldn’t factor into how someone else processes their emotions.
Here’s the thing—my advice on what to do in these situations won’t help anyone except myself. I think as a nation we were affected by this crime, but as a nation we are made up of many. Those many will each react differently.
Mourning is best done on an individual basis, because,depending on the individual, the grieving person’s behavior changes. We can’t all be expected to check off each box from the Kubler-Ross stages of grief in linear order.
In fact, I doubt anyone can follow the exact model precisely. Personally, I’m the sort of person who skips straight over denial, anger, and bargaining. I skip straight to depression, feeling heavy with exhaustion and hopelessness.
But I don’t ever want to remain hopeless. I can’t give any advice on how to move forward, but I have some firm ideas on how we should support other people.
One of my favorite authors,Lemony Snicket, writes a book series for kids that introduces young children to concepts of personal tragedy and loss. In one book, “Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid,” he compiles quotes intended to offer the reader some form of wisdom.
“When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them,” Snicket writes.
However someone may be mourning, learn what they need then reach out and give them that. I believe that’s the best we can ask of anybody right now.