Healing from tragedy, healing at all, depends on asking the right questions. Start with: What is this doing?
During this time of grief-upon-grief, aside from what must be done with emergency plans and hospital procedures and public and private safety, you must take care to ask the right questions at deeper levels.
One of the smartest men I know, spiritual psychologist Robert Sardello, has a gift of asking the right question. I was lucky enough to work with him in the 1990s, when his school was centered in North Carolina. He often said, regarding a disturbance of any kind, “The question is not, ‘Why did this happen?’ nor ‘How did this happen?’ The question, at the soul level, is ‘What is this doing?'"
We are living in the illusion of the opened Pandora’s box, with horrible things flying out in the form of man-made and nature-made violence. What these tragedies are doing, each one coming so quickly after the other, is torquing up fear at the individual and collective level. And there is only one force strong enough to combat fear, and that is the force of love.
It must be said that what this is doing at the soul level is asking us to generate more love in the face of fear. I know this seems like a high-minded ideal, but if you will stop and breathe into it, make yourself sit down and allow the possibility of “love defeats fear” to descend into your body, you will feel the natural truth of it.
However, it's a bit more nuanced than that. In "Freeing the Soul From Fear," Sardello writes that fear has much to teach us about love. "Fear can sharpen our alertness, and we can utilize this quickening of consciousness to become more perceptive of the varieties of love."
He cautions against over-sentimentalizing love. "The notion that fear can do no harm if I just love more intensely and continuously is quite egotistical, not to mention naive. Love is really very little under our control. At best, we can work to make ourselves adequate vessels of love so that it can flow through us and, ultimately, into the wider world."
Ten Steps for Healing From Public Tragedy
(C) 2017 Sheridan Hill. The contents of this blog are protected and are part of an upcoming book on grief. Sheridan Hill hosts a monthly healing circle in Black Mountain, NC.
Reflections from a grief dula to help others navigate the waters of grief. Blog posts here are copyrighted and are part of an upcoming book. Please quote with attribution. Sheridan Hill