Over the past few years, we have seen an awful increase in the number of gun violence cases, such as mass shootings. In just the past 3 years (starting from January 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first started dramatically shifting our daily lives) there have been over 1,400 mass shootings reported. One hundred and thirty-one of those cases have occurred this year — in the past 3 and a half months.
As many of you know, there was a mass shooting that occurred in the early morning on April 3rd in Sacramento. To make matters even worse, this isn’t even the only mass shooting Sacramento has seen in the past two months. On February 28th there was a mass shooting where a man shot and killed three of his children and another man in a church before taking his own life as well. The Sacramento community has been struck by another devastating tragedy before it could even finish mourning the previous one.
This mass shooting on April 3rd left six people dead, 12 wounded, and the entire Sacramento community in mourning. Many local groups — such as the Family Assistance Center at Cal Expo and A Different Path — are working to help offer support and assistance to those who need it in the community during this time.
So, whether you have experienced a loss during this mass shooting, you are a witness or survivor of the event, or you are simply finding yourself wanting some guidance on how to cope with the traumatic event that occurred in the early hours of April 3rd, here, we will go over some ways to help cope with the feelings you may be having.
Tips for Coping in the Aftermath
There is no “right way” to deal with grief or trauma or to mourn for the loss of a loved one. But, there are some ways that you can ensure that you are allowing yourself to experience the feelings and honor the lives of those around you and those who have passed in a healthy way.
So, without further ado, here are some tips to help you cope during the aftermath of this tragic event.
Focus on Self Care
The first thing that you will want to focus on is your own body. It may seem contrary to what you think you should be doing, but it is critical that you take the time to check in with yourself before going out and providing support and comfort to others. The simple reason for this is that unless you are taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to help anyone else.
So, make sure you are taking care of yourself and your needs. Eat healthy, balanced meals, get a full night’s sleep each evening, exercise regularly and try to maintain your normal daily routine. All of these things nourish your body (and mind) and make it possible for you to be of help to other people.
Pay Attention to Your Emotions
Similar to taking care of your body, you need to take care of your mind as well. Emotions are natural for us, pretending they don’t exist or ignoring them is not going to help anyone. Recognize that you and others are probably going through a wide array of emotions and try to be gentle with yourself and with others as well.
Try to Recognize When to Support Others
It is common for individuals to experience a variety of emotions and reactions when they are exposed to traumatic events, like the mass shooting on the 3rd, even in the media. Because of this, it is important for you to maintain awareness and be on the lookout for changes in behaviors, sleeping habits, mood, and energy levels which can denote signs of stress.
If you notice these types of changes, that is probably a good sign that the person who is showing these signs of stress could use some additional support from you. It may also be that someone may need more support than you can provide — for whatever reason, be it you are dealing with your own emotional health or any other reason. In this case, it can be a good idea to direct that person toward a professional therapist who can provide the support that they need in this time.
Maintain Contact with Your Friends and Family
Our friends and family are oftentimes the first people we go to when we are unhappy or in need of comfort. Whether it is something as simple as you getting stuck in a really long line at the grocery store and you call your brother, sister, or best friend to kill some time or something as intense as losing a friend or family member and wanting to feel the loving support of your mother or father’s arms wrapped around you.
These people are your support structure and in the aftermath of the tragic mass shooting that occurred on April 3rd this year, your support structure is probably just what you need.
Take a Break from the News
You may be tempted to keep going back to the news for new information regarding the mass shooting, but it is important to recognize that while being informed is good, being overexposed to information can actually raise your stress, not decrease it.
So, by all means, stay informed about what is happening during the aftermath of the shooting, but make sure to take breaks and focus on other things as well. Take time to focus on things that you enjoy — for example, go for a walk and enjoy the Spring air or curl up on your couch with your favorite book and just get lost in the pages for a while.
Think About Creating Balance
Oftentimes when we experience a tragic event we can focus solely on the negatives and forget about all of the positive things that are still happening in the world and in our lives. This tunnel vision can lead to a lot of people adopting a very pessimistic view of the world which can lead to longer periods of sadness and really damage the way you think about your life and those around you.
So, strive to balance out the negatives with the positives that you are noticing around you. Take time to notice — and maybe even write down — something positive each day. This will help you to ensure that you aren’t only feeding your mind negative thoughts and are instead offering it the ability to be balanced.
Talk to Others
Talking to other people is incredibly helpful for helping you deal with your emotions. Whether for you this means sitting down and talking with your spouse, friends, or family members or it means visiting a therapist to talk, talking is an incredibly valuable tool for helping you process and understand the feelings you are experiencing.
It is important to understand that you are not alone. The feelings you are experiencing are likely being experienced by those around you as well, and talking to them can help not only balance your emotional state but also the emotional states of those around you as well.
So, please don’t hesitate to ask for help or reach out to us at Love Heal Grow. Especially if you are finding yourself having trouble recovering from the event of the mass shooting and its aftermath and you are having difficulty returning to your normal everyday tasks. You are not alone in mourning the events that occurred on the 3rd. We, as members of the Sacramento community, understand the feelings you may be going through and we are here to help you through this process.