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Allowing Your Soul To Heal

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A New England Patriots fan shows support for the 26 victims of the mass shooting that took place at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 16, 2012, in Foxboro, Mass. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A New England Patriots fan shows support for the 26 victims of the mass shooting that took place at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 16, 2012, in Foxboro, Mass. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorYes, I’ve been quieted away for the past 48 hours — limited contact with outsiders and news reports, with more time spent with loved ones, as well as simple time by myself.

We like to think we can handle anything, but that’s not true – and sometimes forcing the issue makes things worse rather than better. Obviously, sometimes we have no choice to function to some degree, especially if we have kids, jobs, or other responsibilities that can’t be swept into a “timeout” closet.

But with my personal ties to Columbine, Aurora, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., this shooting story was a tipping point. Like you, I’m stunned, sad, questioning, anxious, and depressed. One more safe place in our world that was thought to be off-limits from evil is now gone.

There a lot of appropriate emphasis on “how to talk to kids” about this tragedy — and that’s a vitally important topic. Gloria Neal did a helpful and thoughtful interview on that, which I’d encourage you to read.

But how about us? The grownups who are supposed to hold it together. Have the answers. Be available for others.

Well, I think you’ve got to think about protecting, and then healing the soul.

First, give yourself some slack. If you feel scared, confused, frustrated, discouraged — that’s okay. It’s allowed. This just happened. We’re still in a shock phase.

Don’t look for absolute solutions today. That requires rational processing and thoughtfulness, not knee jerk “we’ve got to fix society today.”

Sure, I’d love that too, but this situation is so complex, a knee jerk response of blame and poorly thought out solutions won’t help. It’s hard to make a good decision when your head is spinning. We need some fixes, but they will come in the times ahead.

Which brings me to pundits and “experts.” For example, take what you’re hearing on gun control.

From “take away all weapons” to “this wouldn’t have happened if the teachers had weapons.” These ideas don’t help today.

It’s clear we need a dialogue — a civil and thoughtful dialogue — but not someone’s poorly conceived opinion. We could and should talk about it, but you know we’re not going to fix it by 11:59 tonight.

Shut the extremists out of your life for now (and in my opinion, forever.)

I am hoping one thing that comes out of Connecticut is a look at: access to weapons, mental health, school security, popular movies, media reporting, parenting support, etc. etc. etc.

There is a lot that needs a thoughtful examination. If shooting little kids doesn’t make us examine ourselves, I’m not sure what will.

A few more thoughts.

Limit your news. Stay in the loop, but 24/7 coverage to your brain is unhealthy.

Accept that the unexplainable is just that: unexplainable.

Accept the fact that you can’t unwind the clock.

Find an escape — a distraction. I watched a comfort movie last night. The tragedy didn’t go away, but my brain had a short time of peace to help me deal with the news to come.

Sleep. Nap. Go for a walk. And have a talk.

You need to get your feelings out — but it’s got to be with someone you trust. Place a limit on how long you consistently spend on this subject.

Be comfortable with who you speak with — avoid the opinionated, toxic people in your world. Support is the prescription, not “know-it-alls.” Don’t forget the benefits of ministers, rabbis, priests and spiritual leaders.

And don’t be shy about professional help. I’m not ashamed to admit I talked to a psychologist after Columbine, and after combat deployments. I needed it. It helped.

Surround yourself with loved ones. Family. Friends. That’s the most important ingredient of the recipe to survive, and heal.

Folks, I wish I had the answers. I wish someone had all the answers. But, it just seems like horrible events are happening with more and more frequency. It wasn’t like this years ago.

So we adjust. We fix. We rely on others to help us do so. We are a strong people, and we will get through this together.

And the key concept in that sentence is “together.”

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