Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about the movie theater massacre that happened on Friday in Aurora, Colorado.  I think I had to take a moment to collect my thoughts so that whatever I wrote would make some semblance of sense.  It’s shocking and a reminder that life is fragile and unpredictable.  Can you imagine that a benign activity like going to see the opening of a movie can turn into people running for their lives?  It’s the kind of stuff you see in movies not at the movies!  Memories of Columbine and the Virginia Tech shootings come flooding back in a hurry.  And what you were doing, who you were with, and where you were start becoming vivid.

Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, the list goes on.  These victims didn’t need to be.  It’s enough to make you feel a host of emotions: frozen, angry, sad, worry, vigilance, protection, appreciation…  Can anything be done or said to help ease the pain and the reality of the loss?  How could someone do such a thing?  How could no one know?  The questions can be endless and don’t seem very helpful.

Additionally, an event like this can propel us to start thinking about the inordinate amount of time spent planning and waiting for something so that we could live the life we want.  I think this event may challenge that.  Time is not guaranteed and we certainly don’t control it.  But we can control/manage how we feel, our decisions and what we do.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype of it all and experience a range of sensations from anger to helplessness.  Some of you may even find a new sense of motivation and drive to accomplish things and embrace life.   Even if your response to this tragedy feels unusual to you, in truth all of these emotions can be quite normal, actually.  But as the days and weeks pass, you might find yourself becoming concerned for those around you whose mood shifts and behavior changes.  Maybe you start to notice changes in functioning in various areas of their life like work, home, or even their social life.  Maybe the someone who’s changing is you.  If you or someone else notices this about yourself or someone that they care about, be brave, take a deep breath and step in.

When there is a large scale tragedy we all cope in different ways but there are some things we want you to remember.  Try not to be alone or if that’s what you need let someone know so that they can check in on you.  It’s also okay not to watch or read too many stories about this tragedy as well as talk about it incessantly.   Sometimes doing these very things can skew your perception of what else in going on with you, your loved ones, the country or the world, for that matter.  This is the time for communication and use of the community.  I’m talking about reaching out to friends, family, neighbors, or your church, synagogue, mosque and even professionals, if need be.   Most states have county-based mental health centers that can be searched by computer by looking up ‘community mental health center’ in your state.  Use your resources and support network.  Maintain and manage.  Best of health and well-being to you all.

On behalf of Group Therapy Associates, our hearts go out to the victims and their families.   And our hearts go out to you, our community during this time of grief and shock, it’s important to remember that there are people out here to listen and support you… including those of us here at GTA.