Elizabeth's Blog: Calling for re-do

A funny thing happens in a newsroom when breaking news hits.  Everyone is in motion. You're checking sources; you have an ear on the national news; you're watching the news feeds, checking Facebook, searching for any piece of information that might be relevant or needed by the people who depend on you for information.

You know the intimate details of a tragic event inside and out. You can recite the latest facts and figures at the drop of a hat, but it isn't until you walk outside of the bustling newsroom when your shift ends, and you sit alone quietly that you actually realize what just happened.

At least that's my experience, and it's one I'm sure many other reporters have had as well.  You cover a triple homicide then five hours later realize that three people are dead by the hand of a fellow human.

It is days like these that I am truly glad that I have a dog.  For those of you who are not fortunate enough to know, a dog is a source of infinite joy and innocence.  It doesn't matter how bad your day was, a dog's day was happy and they are always happy to see you.

Humans, on the other hand, can be the source of infinite joy or infinite sorrow as this week has unfortunately proven.

It's weeks like the previous week between the Boston bombing, the poisoned letters sent to a Senator and the President and the explosion in West Texas that really make you question what good is left in this world.

My grandmother had a saying, "Don't ask what's next because God might show you."

These events can be as straining on you emotionally and mentally as it can be physically.  Earlier in the week I spoke with psychologist Dr. Jesse Lambert who specializes in helping children.  He told me when there are events of mass tragedy many of us feel what's called vicarious trauma.  This means that even though you aren't physically present, you are still deeply affected by the event.

Over the past year we've had several events like this, and it's easy to question your sense of safety anywhere.

Psychologists say this is a normal reaction.

However, among the shock and even fear, I think that Mr. Rogers had it right.   Some of you may have noticed the picture that I posted on my Facebook page.  It was a quote from Fred Rogers that said,

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."

I think that quote is an example of how, while we as humans are capable of such awful violence, we are just as capable of outstanding service and kindness.  After all, in those images of terror from Boston, we also saw first responders and volunteers rushing in the chaos to help.

Last Sunday, as if foreshadowing the week that would be, the pastor where I attend church quoted a man that once said, "I'd like to ask God why there is so much suffering, war, poverty and pain in the world when he could fix it.   But, I'm afraid he would tell me."

The point that my minister was making was that God put us on this Earth to take care of each other.  Much like a parent and his child, at some point he must step back and let the child make its mistakes and learn from them.

In that Catch-22 of human nature, I think we can find comfort, and that's how we can find healing among each other.

Dr. Lambert was quick to point out that when explaining tragedy and bad things to children, it is up to adults to make them feel safe, to let them know that there is more good than bad, and that there will be someone will stand up to protect them when needed.

Sometimes I think we have to remind each other of that, and be the person who steps up.

When tragedy strikes we can find comfort and healing from fear and anxiety by helping.  The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are two sources where you can be assured any donation of money or supplies will be used where it is most needed.

Click here for link to the Red Cross and here for a link to the Salvation Army.

As I have written before, helping out can also be a good way to process and deal with grief in a healthy way.

Other ways are talking to some you trust, whether that be a councilor, a friend, a pastor or a family member.

It's also good to remember that we've all had a pretty terrible week, and we can make next week better by taking time to be that positive force Mr. Rogers talked about.