I’ve seen the headlines. I know the basics. But I haven’t read a single post or news story about the Aurora, Colorado shooting. I just can’t do it.
I mentioned that my vacation involved a Grey’s Anatomy marathon. Took me all the way to the end of the sixth season. If you follow the show you know that at the end of season six an armed gunman roams the hospital and a lot of people are shot. A few die. As a viewer you sit helpless, knowing what is happening, unable to communicate what you know to the characters and you watch people die. Senseless death.
Part of the reason I took a week “off” (Cara Schulz tells me that if you are still checking in and doing an hour or two of work each day that you’re not really taking a vacation) was because I took Dave Grega’s death harder than I would have expected. He was younger than me, someone that I knew, a colleague. Beyond being a fellow Pagan, he was “one of us,” one of the people trying to make a difference in Pagan media. He had cancer and other health issues, and yet despite his significant weight loss, heavy medication and recent surgery, a bunch of bullies were roaming the internet saying he had a heart attack because he was fat. They used a person I knew as a weapon, mis-characterizing his death. My grandmother, who was the only person in my life who ever unequivocally loved me, died of a heart attack brought on by chemotherapy. My father died of cancer. Death is senseless.
I’m carrying a lot of grief right now. Dave’s death brought him to the forefront of my mind, and I grew angry again at things that passed between us. Then I grew angry because he was no longer here to be angry at. I’m angry because no one should die a horrible death because of cancer, but particularly someone so young. Dave was 27. My dad was only 52. My grandmother was only 61. I’m angry because I miss my grandmother, because if she were alive I could turn to her for love and support. I’m angry because Dave’s death dredges up the feelings of losing my father and grandmother.
I don’t know anything about Aurora. I don’t know how to offer appropriate expressions of sympathy for something so devastating. I don’t even know how to process my own grief. So I watch Grey’s Anatomy, and that helps me cry. It gives me an outlet. It gives me relief.
I hope everyone in Aurora finds an outlet, a safe place, a trigger even, that helps them express their grief. Not just for today, or for the next week. For decades to come. Grief doesn’t go away completely. My grandmother died 24 years ago in 1988. I was six years old. I really miss her today. I miss her so much it hurts. When I was small and defenseless, she was my safe place. I still need space to grieve for her.
I wish everyone touched by Aurora safe space to grieve. I wish them a lifetime of knowing and finding safe and comforting ways of grieving. Blame and gossip and drama may be the current hot topic, but it is the grief that will last. May you find safe space to express your grief.