LOSS Program Office
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Chicago, IL 60654
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I have been following with great interest the tragic events in Boston. Once again we are met with a heinous event that has caused great bloodshed and insurmountable human suffering. What started out as a normal event ended with tragedy and heart breaking human suffering. Once again we are confronted with questions such as what is the meaning of this? Why does God allow something like this to occur? What is happening to our country and our world? Who was the cause of this terrorism? I suppose that there are a myriad of other questions that cross people’s minds but those are just a few that have crossed my mind in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy.
One of the other issues that has become glaringly apparent to me is that in the past few years we have witnessed such awful and tragic happenings in our country. Such as, the massacre in Tucson, Arizona, where six people died and several people were injured as a result of an individual going on a rampage. Then followed by the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, where twelve people died and scores were injured as a result of another person going on a rampage with a gun. Then followed a massacre in a Sikh mosque where a number of people were slain by an enraged person with a gun, followed by the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where twenty young children were slain along with six adults by yet another person with a gun.
When survivors are exposed to the publicity of these tragic events, it is very common to have feelings of grief stirred up as a result of the publicity. Survivors are reminded of the pain that they experienced when their loved ones took their lives. These tragic events bring home to survivors the fact that there are more families who are beginning their own journey on the path of grief. The big question in all of these events is WHY? There is no answer to that question. Survivors of these tragic events are asked to grapple with the mystery of why such horrendous events are happening before our very eyes.
June can also be a difficult month for survivors as well. In June we celebrate Father’s Day. This is a day when we honor our fathers, grandfathers and father figures who have had such an impact on our lives. We remember those men who guided us and influenced us in our formative years. It is a sad day for those people who are grieving the loss of a father or grandfather from suicide as well as for those fathers who are grieving the loss of a child from suicide. Oftentimes men get shortchanged when it comes to the aftermath of a suicide. Men get overlooked when it comes to expressing feelings or having feelings. Relatives and friends hover around the women who are grief-stricken and tend to ignore the men such as the fathers, grandfathers, uncles or brothers. Obviously, this is not universal, but there is a tendency to be more concerned about the women who are impacted by this tragic event. Granted, women and men are different and react differently to situations in life. Sometimes women can be conceived as being more emotional and having more of an emotional response to a painful happening in life. It can also be said that men are not as expressive with their feelings in either happy or sad events. In no way should this be construed that men do not have strong feelings about what goes on in their worlds. Just because a man does not express feelings of grief in a very public fashion is not a reason to conclude that he does not have any feelings of sadness or guilt or remorse. Women and men react differently to grief. Just because a man does not exhibit feelings of sadness or grief in an external way should not be construed that he is not experiencing these feelings or is not feeling these feelings as deeply as a woman. Unfortunately, men in our society have been relegated to a position where feelings are not to be expressed. I say this in a general way. There are exceptions to the rule. Sometimes people view the expression of feelings as a sign of weakness and men generally do not want to be viewed as weak so they choose not to show external reactions to feelings –either good or bad. This is an erroneous opinion. Feelings are nothing more than a reaction to either a joyful or a painful situation. Feelings are a constant reminder that we are human and when things happen to us in life that evoke a response, we are going to respond by expressing our feelings no matter what the feelings are. Men should be allowed to express their feelings in the same vein as women. There should be no difference.
As always, I want to assure each and every one of our LOSS family of my prayers for all of you during my quiet time each day and I encourage each of our LOSS family members to do the same for each other – especially for those people who have recently joined our family. Remember this, that nobody joins our family because they want to but our family is here to support each other during this time of sadness and grief.
Keep On Keepin’ On,