Universal Coping with Grief

It’s an early Tuesday morning. A few days after the horrific and daunting news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. The 24-hour media cycle documents eyewitness accounts, and social media updates commemorate the children, teachers, and notable staff at the school whose lives were taken.

Beyond the stories and an ongoing gun control debate – with certain people reasoning that schools be better equipped for safety, and that teachers should carry guns… versus those enraged over the gunman’s ability to carry weapons that fired “hundreds of rounds,” and anger over the lack of monitoring of the gunman’s fragile mental state – there are families, eyewitnesses, and those of us near and afar, who are grieving.

Grief is expressed through silence, anger, depression, sadness, and disbelief and much more. A feeling that someone was taken away from us too soon, and unfairly, often overwhelms. Yet even in time of despair, people find inner strength to replay vivid, happy memories in their minds.

Grief is a universal feeling. It’s a part of life. We all experience it. I am still processing grief in the wake of the sudden death of my (young) cousin. I will always remember his happiness, his energy and his laugh that made him live to the fullest. The distance from the Netherlands – where I’m originally from – seemed immense when we first heard the news. Pearl Jam’s “Black” will forever carry a place in my heart as a song he loved. It still feels like a nightmare from which we all wish to wake up, but we are processing it by thinking of happier moments and good memories.

How we choose to cope with the pain and loss is subjective. Many of us turn to family, friends, significant others, and sometimes even strangers who are experiencing the same pain to deal with our emotions. On Friday, the entire world shared grief with Newtown, Conn. Here’s a small glimpse of the worldwide reaction.


Is this the time to discuss gun control in America? How is it viewed worldwide? Is the media frenzy harmful to those who are grieving – are interviews of surviving children exploitative or helpful? The answers to these questions vary from person to person. In my view, the subject of gun control has produced nothing less of a back and forth with no real solution in sight.

Do I believe people should be banned from possessing guns or hunting? Absolutely not. In fact, I know people who own guns or hunt – but they have a level of responsibility. Tighter gun control laws would enforce stricter psychological screenings, and restrict access to weapons that fire excessive (hundreds) rounds to only trained (military) personnel – and more importantly, offer closer reassurance that guns don’t land in the wrong hands.

Let us know what you think