In the News: Japan and Its Grief

A Buddhist monk Sokan Obara, 28, from Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, prays for the victims in the debris in the area devastated by the March 11 tsunami in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Thursday, April 7, 2011. Hours later another powerful earthquake hit near the devastated city of Sendai, briefly raising fears of another tsunami. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Not a soul can understand the grief felt by one person when there is a death. When a country loses thousands of people, and the world as they knew it no longer exists, there is no moratorium on grief. Shock waves filled the air as news poured out that Japan had been hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a Tsunami. Where do you begin to heal from losses that are in your face? Day after day, remnants of a life lived, shattered memories as shards of that life are depicted throughout all of the media. It is no longer the grief of  a people or of a country; it is the grief of the world.  The grief of the world rivets us, compelling us in our impotence to somehow help. How do we reach out to help those who are so far away? How is it possible that so many catastrophies have hit such a vast amount of countries? These countries are left to pick up the pieces and start over.  The deaths are abundant and it is clear that family life for many has clearly changed. In the first phase of grief, shock, numbness and discontent are abundant. Thankfully the numbness serves as a protection from emotions that will surely need masking before they come to the pysche’s fore. Go into action. Stay still. Protect the ones you can. Get really driven- pushing hard, getting little or no sleep. Disbelief. Is this a bad dream I am in? Shock. Moving through being overwhelmed with emotion or feeling none at all.  There is nothing normal about this. When your whole world is turned upside down and there is no safe place in which to escape the pain, it is so important to respect the stress you are under as you are experiencing the devastation. If there are caretakers, let them care-take. If you need to be in helper mode so you can keep your own stress at bay, then do that. As observers, this we need to share our thoughts with our own loved ones, friends, family. Don’t keep your feelings in. Don’t let them eat you up inside. Don’ swallow them.

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