Collective Grief: How to process grief during public tragedies

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Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?
~from It’s A Wonderful Life

Guest Blogger: Mabel Ortiz, Music Therapist

Many of us have been impacted by the news about Kobe Bryant’s passing and we are trying to make sense of our feelings. We are trying to understand why we are having a reaction to this story, and why we are grieving his death and the death of others onboard.

We grieve because we can relate. We grieve because we feel connected. We grieve because we feel represented.

This is what we might refer to as collective or public grief. Public tragedies demand us to acknowledge that grief is something that unites us and is something that reminds us that we are human.

If you find yourself wondering how to navigate these feelings of collective grief, the VNA’s Social Services department would like to encourage you to:

  1. Acknowledge that you are having a grief reaction. Allow yourself to experience these feelings as they are normal and come as a result of being part of a community.
  2. Find an outlet (or outlets) to express what you are feeling. This may be engaging in conversation with a close friend, seeking professional counseling, journaling, playing or making music, or talking a walk. This could even mean disconnecting from the news or social media. Find what works best for you.
  3. Take care of yourself. Give yourself permission, time, and space to grieve.

For additional resources and information on grief, here are some resources that might be helpful:

Video resources “Tending You and Others Experiencing Loss and Grief”:

Grief expert, David Kessler’s blog:

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