Please note that this blog post pertains to the recent shooting that occurred at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. This may a difficult topic for some people, so, please, feel free to skip today’s post, if needed.
I wasn’t even sure, and still am not sure, if I should address the shooting, because I am not an expert on guns, gun violence, or gun control. I am, though, like most of you, heartbroken for everyone impacted by this latest school shooting and angered that this keeps happening again and again and again. I think of myself as a life coach for real life, so, and this real life. So, I decided to write about this school shooting and how to cope with the aftermath.
I am NOT a numbers person, but I know that a lot of people are. So, I decided to share a few statistics regarding the epidemic of gun violence our country is facing. A mass shooting is defined as the death of four or more people, not including the shooter. Based on this definition, 175 people have died in school shootings since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and including the shooting at the Covenant School last Monday. Monday’s shooting in Nashville was the thirteenth in 2023. So far.
These numbers are staggering. I know that it can be easy to get caught up in statistics, but I really want you to remember that these number are real people. People who lost their lives simply by either working at, or attending, school.
We have more than enough data, research, and statistics that clearly demonstrate that what we are doing as a country is not working. So, now what? Again, I don’t know what the right answer is or what the most effective solutions are, and although my hope is dwindling, I want to believe that as individuals, communities, and a nation, we will find a way to put an end to these school shootings. No school should be turned into a shooting gallery.
As the details of the Covenant School shooting continue to unfold, there are ways that we can cope with our emotions in the aftermath of this tragedy:
- Give yourself the space and grace to take care of your emotional health and well-being. Watching news coverage and hearing the stories out of Nashville may bring up unresolved trauma or grief, in addition to leaving you feeling sad, angry, hopeless, helpless, or even numb. These feelings may not seem normal, but they are normal parts of grieving and healing. So, be patient with yourself.
- Focus on your self-care. Get back to the basics of getting enough sleep, eating food that nourishes your body, and staying hydrated. Take time to breathe, pray, meditate, journal, or whatever activity or practice brings you a sense of peace. Trauma takes its toll on us physically and emotionally, and self-care is more important than ever now.
- Utilize your support system. Check in with people who care about you and love you and let them know how you are feeling and what you may need, as you process your feelings. You are not alone, so, try not to isolate yourself.
- Limit media exposure. Take a break from media coverage of the story, social media, and discussing it to give yourself some peace of mind.
- Find constructive ways to channel your energy and feelings. Write your representatives about changes that need to be made to put an end to gun violence. Volunteer for an organization that promotes gun safety. Get involved at a youth center or local school to tutor or mentor kids. Journal about how you are feeling. Participate in a prayer vigil or rally. Allow yourself to cry.
- Seek mental health treatment, if you are having difficulty coping or if you feel like you want to harm yourself and/or others. If you, or someone you know, are in need of mental health resources, please, seek assistance. The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services can connect you with the appropriate resources. Also, you call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline twenty-four hours/day, seven days/week.
I hope that you can take away at least one thing that will help you to cope with this latest tragedy and that encourage you to be part of the solution to ensure the safety of our kids and everyone else. We must do better. Our kids are counting on all of us.
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