Coping with the News of a Mass Shooting: Fighting Fear with Love

October 3, 2017

Waking up in the aftermath of a tragedy is jarring. This morning, I reached for my phone alarm, but before I could press snooze, I was startled by the number of texts from my friends and family. A CNN alert proclaimed a mass shooting. I sat up immediately, shaken from my sleepy fog. Again?

Las Vegas is known for its glitzy nightlife, but now it will also be known as the setting of this country’s largest mass shooting to date. It is plastered on social media, news media, and everyone’s faces. We recognize furrowed brows and frowns as the signs of anxiety, concern, and fear. Some people wonder if they will ever feel safe again.

The violence and suffering in this country and abroad is not new. But with the culture of video and picture sharing, it can sometimes feel like the world is caving in under the weight of this chaos. What can we do to cope?

It is normal to feel shocked, confused, anxious, and/or depressed about the violence in Las Vegas, whether you were there or not. The human brain is not meant to bear constant reminders of its mortality. Shootings are senseless and scary, period.

We must take the time today, and for a while, to make ourselves feel safe and secure as we attempt to go forward. Coping with tragedy is difficult, especially on such large scale. These tips are a helpful way to perform our duties to support one another and seek the support we each need.

  1. Tell those that you care about that you care about them. Love and support the people you love. They may be in need of some reassurance today. It is okay that it feels good for you, too.
  2. Get some exercise. It will dispel the excess energy, adrenaline, and cortisol that comes with exposure to trauma. It will also make you feel good when you’ve worked up a sweat and released endorphins, which are like happy hormones.
  3. Meditate, or just breathe. Center yourself in the present moment. Pay attention to your body sensations. If you feel so inclined, evoke your spirituality to guide you in this process of centering and healing.
  4. If you’re feeling survivor’s guilt, that’s natural. Recognize that, wherever you were instead of Las Vegas, you were probably living your life as it felt natural to you. You are not at fault for this violence.
  5. For those who feel called to help, you can donate blood at your nearby Red Cross and offering emotional support to those who were affected via social media or immediate friendships.
  6. Remember that life will feel less scary in time. Our brains can’t hold this level of fear for long. We are biologically built to cope, and it will happen naturally as time passes.

Life will go on after this tragedy, just as it did after some of the others in our nation’s young history. We are a resilient people. Whether you were in Las Vegas, or across the country, take the time that you need to feel what you feel about this terrible event. As you take care of yourself, you will feel better with time.

To those who were injured or lost, and their loved ones, our hearts at Council for Relationships go out to you.


briana bogue council for relationships

Briana Bogue, MFT