How to Cope with Senseless Tragedies

In the wake of the insane Texas church assault, I have to acknowledge that senseless tragedies are by definition without sense.

They don’t have meaning. They’re never going to have meaning. They’re horrible things that happen to both good and “bad” people. They’re out of our control. That’s why I’m not going to pretend to have any ideas for making sense out of them.

But I can share how I cope with them, whether it seems a rare event or—as it seems lately—one of an endless stream of horrors. My approach is quite simple, really.

First, I grieve. I cry. I curse the evils in this world. I pray.

I may go through these steps multiple times over multiple days.

But then I take a second step.

I look around and deliberately find the grace, beauty, and love in my life. Click To Tweet

I find the treasures. I find the miracles. And I focus on them. I give thanks for them. I treasure them and feed them.

Because to do otherwise—to give into the fear and anguish and anger—is to let the evil, sick ones win.

Embrace life, cherish it, be happy.

Yesterday in church my minister talked about All Saints and All Souls Days. He reminded us that there are saints on earth—with a lower case “s”—who let God’s light shine through them. We all have, or have had, people like that in our lives. Some of them were murdered yesterday.

But we can honor them by focusing on the light that shone through them, and by challenging ourselves to likewise be a portal for God’s light.

Light shines through window.

We can become beacons of hope, and in so doing, begin to heal our little corner of the world.

“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’

No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” ~Dalai Lama XIV

Don’t lose your hope. Don’t let others lose theirs. Don’t let the bastards win.

~Please, share this issue. Use this link to get weekly posts on practical mindfulness–practical ways to bring happiness into your daily life.

Marcy McDonald is the author of Build Happiness: Block-Based Exercises to Change Your Perspective and Change Your Life.

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1 thought on “How to Cope with Senseless Tragedies”

  1. Thank you so very much for the comforting and thoughtful encouragement on handling these inexplicable senseless tragedies and great loss. I would offer one more coping pillar: self-inspection. So this would not be an act of contrition, guilt, attempt to assign (self) blame or take responsibility for the vicious and violent actions of others. I find it to be a compelling cause to pause and reflect (on myself in the mirror!).
    So our liturgy ‘…sins by what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved others as ourselves….’ and you know the rest. When thinking about yesterday’s massacre I am must look inwardly as well at what I have left undone and the missing love (for my neighbor?). While I/we enjoy so many privileges and comforts in our country (and in my life) it is clear that all is not well in our America today where our violent crime rates rival that of lawless third world countries. I ask myself often what is the solution? Either I am part of the solution or by default part of the problem, as I am America.

    I challenge myself to ponder the things that I could have done but did not, should have done but chose not, would have done but thought not however small and seemingly inconsequential. These actions run the gamut of speaking out, supporting the right leaders, standing tall for what is right and speaking out loudly against wrong, keeping such issues front and center in my prayers, sweeping the tendrils of mental illness under a rock and out of my purview, and the list goes on and on and on. Because I want to be part of the ‘solution’ I am called to challenge myself to do more and be more closely aligned with all that is God, love and right.

    Such tragedies are clearly are as much of a societal issue as anything hence the ‘solution’ must be different than what ‘we/I’ have done to date. I suspect that I can do more but I know with absolute certainty that I must give that whisper of the knowledge a louder voice in my mind, spirit and actions which is brought about most efficiently with introspection.

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