People Supporting People
We shouldn’t have to pretend that everything is okay when it isn’t.
Two days ago, on July 4th, a day for celebration and national unity, multiple people were injured and killed in broad daylight on Main Street, USA – Highland Park, Illinois – the latest of a series of similarly senseless gun violence tragedies. That shooting set me on edge and left me in shock.
Although I am grateful that no harm befell my loved ones, I am not okay. Instead, I will grieve the loss of others and the loss of feeling safe in places all around our country at joyful public celebrations and events.
Oftentimes, we try to contextualize problems like these with statements such as: “It could have been worse” or “Everything will be fine and you will get over it.” But these statements, typically offered as help, are a form of toxic positivity.
Toxic positivity can invalidate our feelings and trigger our shame and guilt for feeling the way we do. The reality is that having negative emotions, including anger, sadness, grief, fear, and worry, is part of being human. It is normal. Most importantly, emotional health is better served when we acknowledge, own, and experience these emotions. We will survive these difficult emotions and they ultimately will lessen and dissipate.
The next time you encounter a friend’s feelings of loss—or your own—consider asking if they want to talk about it or if there is anything you can do to support them. My wish is that we, as a society, can put an end to these types of tragedies. In the meantime, we should know that it’s okay not to be okay.
If you need additional guidance or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-260-4881. If you know of anyone who might need my help, please pass this email along. I am here to support you, and just an email or a call away.
Wishing you compassion and support,
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