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Irrational Fears as a Response to Tragedy

This morning my family and I went to church. It’s been a few months, and for that I feel badly. I don’t feel badly because I think I will go to hell if I don’t attend mass. I feel badly because I usually feel better after having gone. There’s something comforting and healing in going to mass. Especially where I go. The priest who says our mass is a Franciscan, and he’s just so full of joy and life. And the music is good. And I see people I know and like.

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I’ve been saying I’ve wanted to go for months, but something always gets in the way. Today, maybe because it’s Advent. Maybe because my youngest is preparing for her First Communion. Maybe because subconciously I needed some healing after Friday’s events. Whatever it was, we finally went.

We got there before mass started, and rather than feel comforted, I suddenly started to feel worried. Worried about someone bursting through the back doors of the church and opening fire on everyone. Worried there could be bullets flying and bodies hit and people panicking.

I was seriously distracted by these thoughts until the singing started. Until I saw Father Chris walking up the aisle. Until I saw his beaming face and watched my husband and children singing. Then, somehow, I calmed down.

What I wonder now is – “Is this the new normal?”

Is this how I’m going to feel whenever I’m in a crowd?

Is this how I’m going to feel when I’m in a large public place?

Is this how I’m going to feel when I’m at the mall? Or the movies?

Is this how I’m going to feel every time I drop the kids off at school? Or in town? Or at a friend’s house?

People keep saying “Don’t live in fear.” “Don’t let one instance run your life.”

It’s more than one incident. In fact, yesterday there was a shooting only an hour from here.

And in Portland, there was a shooting at a mall.

I could do more searching for recent shootings, but you get the idea. You’re on the internet. You hear news. It’s no surprise to anyone that shootings have gotten more frequent.

I hate this feeling. I hate feeling helpless. It reminds me of how I felt after 9/11. I worried about being in a public venue. About flying. About sports events. About Disneyland. About airports and train stations. About parks.

Am I the only one going through this? Is anyone else out there having (mostly) irrational fears in the wake of these shootings? Please tell me I’m not alone!

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5 responses »

  1. I don’t think it’s irrational. I felt the same way during the sniper shootings out here. I was literally petrified to put gas in my car. It will get better. ((Hugs))

  2. I’m glad you went to mass today. The readings seemed perfect for what is going on. God does not want us to live in a world of fear. We are not promised a life without pain, but were given someone who will be with us on our journey, carrying us through the most difficult trials. If one believes in Good, then one must believe in Evil and vice versa. As people turn away from God, more evil enters the world. Tragedy and loss are difficult and what happened in CT was despicable, but oftentimes, the only time we are looking for hope are through these kind of situations. Sadly, many people turn from God instead of looking to Him for guidance. What a better way for people to honor these children who lost their lives in a personal way, but to turn to God and find the peace they are looking for. Believing that there is something better than this life and growing in an understanding of God’s promises can help one live a life where they refuse to be a victim of anyone or any circumstance. Life is going to be filled with some pretty crappy and heavy stuff, and for me, I have to believe that this can’t be all there is. We have a choice though. God isn’t making us follow Him. He has given us the choice to decide to do with what He has to offer. It may make people feel uncomfortable, but why is living a life in fear any better? How can a faithless existence really be hopeful or joyful? I had a priest once that challenged each person for one year to go to confession regularly and attend mass weekly. He promised that your life would change. Since then, I have taken my kids to mass every Sunday since Katie was born. I haven’t kept up with the confession as I might have liked to, but I will say that I understand what he meant about my life changing. I was Catholic my whole life, but I made an adult commitment that helped me understand the victim-less mentality. There’s no reason to live in fear if we truly make the commitment to find the peace. It’s not easy, there’s stumbles along the way, and we never have a full understanding. But, living a joyful life as a testament to others, living for others over one self, and knowing there is something bigger and better awaiting us makes tragedy and loss here on earth more tolerable. Those children from CT are with God now and don’t feel any more pain. It’s those of us that are left behind that feel the pain. We need God to help us with that.
    Love you,
    Jen

  3. Dad and I went to a movie yesterday afternoon, and I found myself looking around at the crowd, not feeling as safe as I did before the Aurora shooting. Strangely, we went to the movies to distract ourselves from thinking about what happened in Newton, and – because of what happened in Colorado – it didn’t really work. Neither would it have helped to go to the Mall. It is important to remind ourselves that, in spite of the horror of these events, they are still rare. That doesn’t mean it can never happen or that our children are always safe. Illness, tragedy still happen and somehow we must muster the courage to go on with our lives and be happy in the face of this uncertainty about the future. Of course, prayer can help encourage and comfort us, but so can getting involved in activities that might help make our society a safer place, whether actively promoting some kind of legislation, or joining committees of concerned moms to work towards school and community safety with law enforcement officlals, or trying to help out in some small or large way to create a more empathic and loving society.
    Love, Mom

  4. Totally not irrational. I’m finding it impossibly hard to process this myself.

  5. I definitely get that way. I hate planes since 9/11. I haven’t stepped into a movie theatre since the Aurora incident. I got an sudden, unexplained fear one year (probably about 10 years ago now) while watching the Times Square NYE countdown that all hell was going to break loose at the strike of midnight, with America watching. I decided right then and there you couldn’t pay me to EVER be there on NYE. EVER. And that same irrational fear has grown to include such major events as the Super Bowl. I can’t let my mind go “there” about schools. Is it on my mind? Yes. Do I pause when it’s time to drop the kids off? Yes. But I have to feel like my school is safe. I have to. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.

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