El Paso: Hope Amid Chaos

Recently America experiences a weekend was filled with horror, death, fear, anxiety, panic, and dread as news spread of the El Paso shootings and the second shock of the shootings in Dayton.

Even as this tragic news was breaking, I was anticipating being called to respond to the tragedy in El Paso. Early Sunday evening, I was asked to head to El Paso early Monday morning as a Grief Counselor for a business that was directly impacted by this tragedy. I chose to focus on El Paso, because I was there.

In those two days, I talked with 21 people who were directly affected by this event. Some had lost friends and family members, others had experienced prior violence. All were nearly immobilized with fear, and others were angry.

This article is a direct result of the freshness of this week’s response as well as 150 plus responses to disruptive workplace events in my work as a Crisis Response Specialist.

With that in mind, I want to share some practical steps you can take to deal with some of the potential toxic emotional aftermaths of such a horrible and tragic event.

When any mass shooting or act of terror occurs, it is reasonable to feel anxious, scared, and uncertain about what the future could bring. With time and appropriate attention, these strong, sometimes immobilizing fears, thoughts, and feelings can begin to fade as life begins its return to a new normal.

Returning to a New Normal

You can accelerate the process by doing the following:

• Limit media exposure! On a practical level, the half-hour evening newscasts will give you enough information to stay current. There is little added value to hearing the 24-hour pundit input.

• Ignoring your feelings about the event will dynamically impair your recovery process.

• Talking about what and how you are feeling may be difficult, but it will help you and others heal.

• Being proactive about you and your family’s situation and well-being (rather than passively waiting for someone else to help you) will help decrease the feelings of powerlessness, anger, anxiety, and vulnerability. Focus on anything that allows you and your family to feel safe, calm, and secure.

Recovery Tips

• Re-establish the routines of your personal and family life.

• Connect with others in your neighborhood, workgroup, and place of worship. For those who exercise spiritual discipline, one of best practices to enhance your recovery is to regularly attend worship services and be a part of a small group.

• If you work a regular 9-5 job, there is a strong possibility that you have an Employee Assistance Benefit which provides free, short-term counseling for you and your family. Be sure to check with your HR department or the benefits link on your company’s website.

• Challenge any thoughts of helplessness.

• Minimize media exposure

• Make stress reduction a priority.
• Get out and exercise.

Tips for Helping Your Kids Cope

• Provide your kids with ongoing opportunities to talk about what they may be feeling.

• If you don’t know the answer to a question they might have, don’t be afraid to admit it.

• Restrict their exposure to media.

• Remember, children often personalize situations. They may worry about their safety or that of their family, even if the traumatic event occurred far away. Reassure them and help them understand the situation in context.

• Watch for the signs of stress: crying, insomnia, tummy aches, excessive fear, and worry.

Moving Forward

Humans are designed to be resilient. In several studies, resilience and post-traumatic growth and hope are three of the critical components of healing as well as personal and spiritual growth. By resilience, I mean the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction that are often associated with critical incidents, acts of terror, mass disasters, and personal trauma.

While we are still reeling from the events of the first week of August, I can tell you based on my years of work in the field that we as individuals, families, and Americans will honor the dead, and care for those who are injured with both visible and invisible wounds. Also, we, as a nation of immigrants (my ancestry is Northern Western European, Wales, and England) will support each other and experience positive, post-traumatic growth.

One of the most important things we can do in the days and weeks ahead it to comfort, console and encourage each other.

This passage from the New Testament Book of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 have helped people for over 2000 years. Take a moment and read it for yourself.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

A Personal Note of Preparedness

These are dangerous times in our country. I thought long and hard about adding this portion, and I would never want to promote fear, I do want to be crystal clear about what I am about to say.

The best way to overcome fear is preparedness.

Many of you have been through Active Shooter Training at work. The Department of Homeland has a great link and a 90-minute training film that, in my opinion, is worth the time to view, whether you are a private citizen, and small business owner, or a part of an international organization.

You should know the drill by now. Flee if you can. If you cannot flee, Hide. If you cannot hide, Fight. I would add a fourth: know how to stop the bleeding. Incident after incident reveals that if a person does not immediately die from a gunshot wound, they will most likely bleed out.

Apart from these national tragedies, you and I still need to know basic First Aid, this video from FEMA is an exceptional training video on how to Stop The Bleed or hemorrhagic control.

If you are authorized to carry a concealed weapon legally, are you proficient in your use of arms? Are you prepared to engage the shooter if that is your final option? If you choose to carry these are some of the serious things you need to consider.

A few days after these mass shootings, an off duty firefighter who was authorized to conceal and carry a weapon stopped an armed individual outside a Walmart in Missouri.

The day of the shooting in El Paso, a young soldier, who is authorized to conceal and carry a weapon, drew his pistol and helped rescue several children when he heard gunfire; unfortunately, he lamented that while he asked people to help him evacuate the children, only one other man helped out. In my opinion, he is one of many heroes that day in El Paso—men and women who ran toward trouble rather than away from it. God bless our First Responders.

There will be lots of lessons learned from these recent tragic events.
While many will attempt to use these events as political currency, why don’t you and I, regardless of politics, socio-economic background, ancestral heritage pull together and do what we can to make this country and this world a better place to live.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, I’d like to take a quick trip down memory lane to some truths and principles that we need to remind ourselves of.

As a former Boy Scout, the oath and creed I learned as a boy is in my mind me today. For those of you who grew up in the Scouts, remember it with me.

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law

The Scout Law has 12 points. Each is a goal for every Scout. A Scout tries to live up to the law every day. It is not always easy to do, but a Scout always tries.

A Scout is:

TRUSTWORTHY. Tell the truth and keep promises. People can depend on you.

LOYAL. Show that you care about your family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and country.

HELPFUL. Volunteer to help others without expecting a reward.

FRIENDLY. Be a friend to everyone, even people who are very different from you.

COURTEOUS. Be polite to everyone and always use good manners.

KIND. Treat others as you want to be treated. Never harm or kill any living thing without good reason.

OBEDIENT. Follow the rules of your family, school, and pack. Obey the laws of your community and country.

CHEERFUL. Look for the bright side of life. Cheerfully do tasks that come your way. Try to help others be happy.

THRIFTY. Work to pay your way. Try not to be wasteful. Use the time, food, supplies, and natural resources wisely.

BRAVE. Face difficult situations even when you feel afraid. Do what you think is right despite what others might be doing or saying.

CLEAN. Keep your body and mind fit. Help keep your home and community clean.

REVERENT. Be reverent toward God. Be faithful in your religious duties. Respect the beliefs of others.

Maybe we should thinks about what it would be like if we took some of these principles and integrated or reintegrate them into our live.

What if we spend less time in the blush’s screen and more time looking into each other’s eyes as we talk and live out lives.

Ancient Wisdom on day-to-day living:

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:15 NLT

Ancient Wisdom on dealing with fear.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified

Live in Grace and Peace
John

Blessings,
John

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2 thoughts on “El Paso: Hope Amid Chaos

  1. Excellent article!! Such a tragedy! Many residents of our town were in El Paso that day shopping for school clothes. Thank you, John, for your service. God bless you.

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