Turn off the TV

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was an early fall morning and I was up early, waiting for my friend and his girlfriend to arrive after a long road trip. He called from his cell phone minutes before his arrival. “Turn on the TV,” he said. It was September 11, 2001.  After that call, I didn’t turn my TV off for several days. I was glued to the TV night and day and though I found no comfort in the images, I simply couldn’t turn it off. Like many, I experienced sleep issues, cried for friends who were blocks from the buildings that day, and simply couldn’t fathom how the world would move forward. It was all just too much for my 22 year old self to handle. 

After the tragedy in Connecticut this past week, I’ve made a conscious effort to stay off the internet and leave my TV off, except for movies and hour long shows on cable. And today, this tragedy hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was at the gym. I was on my favorite machine doing my cardio thing, listening to music. I didn’t even have my headphones plugged in to the TV monitors. But the images of the tragedy were everywhere-eight TVs to be exact. The pictures of those who perished on Friday, psychologists telling parents what to tell their kids, and even ESPN aired the story discussing the NFL’s response yesterday in moments of silence. An acquaintance walked up to me with tears in her eyes telling me how sad she was to drop her young child at school today. It was all too much for me. Big fat tears streamed down my face. Right there at the gym.

There are many ways to grieve for those lost in this tragedy: pray, get involved in your community, talk and process through this, and hug your friends and family. But watching and re-watching, reading and pouring through images on the internet is not the way to cope in the face of this tragedy. In fact, for some of us, this is a way to traumatize ourselves and make our recovery harder. Healing is a hard process. Take a step back and think about how you have handled grief in the past. What has been helpful for you? What would you like to do now to manage through this? Get help if you need it. And please, take a step back and turn off the TV.

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