This past weekend in Orlando, Florida the unthinkable happened AGAIN. Lives and families were destroyed by crazy individuals on a path set out for nothing less than destruction. The first incident involved Christina Grimmie, who was only 22 years old, and a former contestant on the hit television show, The Voice. She was shot and killed while signing autographs after her concert. The second occurred just a day later when a man entered a popular LGBT nightclub and massacred innocent people who were out for an evening of fun and entertainment. This man would proceed to kill more than 50 people and injure dozens more. I must begin by saying that I offer my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to those who were personally affected by these events. Words cannot begin to express how my heart aches for each of you.
How do we as individuals and as a society begin to forgive these UNNECCESSARY atrocities? It seems like every time the television is turned on there is another mass shooting or suicide bombing. (The Boston Marathon, Columbine, Paris, 9/11, and Newtown just to name a few.) Many of these incidents involved our own citizens committing this violence. Innocent people fell victim to heinous crimes while minding their own business. In all cases, the killings were methodically planned and executed with the full intention of causing harm. This was no accident.
Amidst all of this pain and sorrow, how does one even begin the process of forgiveness?
I believe the first step in the process of forgiveness is toGRIEVE. Give yourself permission to mourn the sadness of the situation. Mourn for those who were lost. Mourn for those who survived and will be forever burdened by the permanent scars, both mentally and physically, for the rest of their life. Mourn for the innocence that can never be reclaimed. During these times many people choose to replace the emotions and feelings of mourning with anger, rage, and blame. The Muslims are blamed, guns are blamed, etc. There is an overall NEED to make someone PAY for what has been done. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can turn back time and change the situation. Nothing can be done to un-do the tragedy and suffering that has befallen us and our loved ones. Even the death of the killers will not bring closure or justice. In times like this, we must be very careful not to let our own anger, rage, and blame cause us to harbor the same ill will toward others that we have experienced firsthand. Evil such as this is like a cancer and has the ability to spread quickly. HATE BREEDS HATE while each person believes that they were justified in their actions.
Step two is to love the ones you have lost and cling to those who are still here. Love will always win over hatred. Love is the only light in this dark situation. In the darkest times is when we as individuals and as a nation have joined together the most. We may not always agree on all topics, however, there is a bond that we all share as human beings that bands us together during these trying times. It is in these moments that we understand the value of life.
Step three is about choices. It is now time to CHOOSE to continue living. Death is tragic. It has the ability to take with it more than those who have taken their last breath. It is not uncommon for people to stop engaging in the world due to the overwhelming sadness of losing their loved one. This may stem from some form of guilt such as “Why am I still here and they are not?” or it may come from the inability to process the grief. “Life isn’t worth living if ___________ isn’t here.” Please remember that you are loved. There are others in your life who need you and who value you. Your journey is and always has been to continue on. Don’t become another number on the list of the wounded. The terrorist/shooter/person of hate wants to destroy you. He/she set out on a mission to end life. You may not have been the one directly in the path of their weapon, but if you stop living he/she will have achieved exactly what they set out to do. The best way to conquer these attackers is to never give up. Stand up, be brave and be prepared to face each new day in honor of your loved one who can no longer face it themselves. You are now their voice. Claim it as your own and CONTINUE TO LIVE!
True forgiveness comes when we can find peace in the situation. This will take time. You know the old saying “time heals all wounds”. Well it doesn’t really heal them, but it can help. I wish I had a magic pill to take all your pain and sorrow away. I don’t. I do know, however, that somewhere else in the world right now, there is another person who feels exactly like you do. There is no human experience that someone, somewhere, can’t relate to. Find a church or spiritual group, engage in positive social media, create a network around you who will support you during this time. WORD OF CAUTION: Be sure this group is focused on healing and not about recycling the past. The proof of life is movement and you must always be moving forward in order to be alive.
Focus your attention on your loved one. Remember them for all the days they were here instead of holding them hostage during their last moment. In other words, celebrate the LIFE that was lived instead of attaching yourself to their last day. DO NOT ALLOW these disillusioned maniacs to steal the beautiful life away from your loved one. They may have taken their physical body but they are not permitted to destroy the STORY of their life as well. It is the responsibility of those of us left behind to tell their stories. If you don’t who will?
Realize that the person/persons who committed these hate crimes is sick. By sick I mean unhealthy. These men/women had no regard for human life. They lacked the basic concept of humanity and had no understanding of love. It makes me sad to know that there are people in this world who are so filled with HATRED, RAGE, AND ANGER that they would go to such extremes, including ending their own life. I am not indicating that we should feel sorry for them or even pity them, instead I am saying to remember how fortunate those of us are, to have known such love.
Don’t give up on the world and your fellow man kind. Continue to believe better for the world. There are so many good people and organizations out there as demonstrated during the initial aftermath of the attack. So many people jumped in to help. It didn’t matter what religion you believed or what your sexual orientation was. A human being was in need and another stepped up to offer assistance. As citizens of this great country we must be diligent in our efforts to help others. This includes people from every nationality. We should never sit idly by as women and children are being tortured and massacred in other countries. Incidents such as this weekend are a cruel reminder that there is a terrible, dark side out there, however, light will always prevail over the dark. Don’t dim your light let it shine brighter now than ever. I think of our great Statue of Liberty holding her torch high in the air. She stands tall and proud of this country and all it represents! Let each of us stand together as a beacon for all of those who are unable to stand alone against the darkness.
My love and my light go out to all of those affected by random acts of violence both here and abroad. May you find a peace which passes all understanding and know that you are not alone. You are a representation to each of us, your brothers and sisters of this beautiful nation we call home. We love you and we will never forget!
Joanel Ryman is a Certified Life Coach, Holistic Health Practitioner, and Energy Therapist specializing in forgiveness and healing broken relationships. She is also the editor of Branches of Healing Magazine as well as a Host for the Branches of Healing Ladies of Purpose Empowerment Group. For more information please visit her website: www.branchesofhealing.org