I have been thinking about recent events in Orlando this morning and thought I would put pen to paper to share my thoughts and reflections over the last week.¬† I am a psychotherapist that works within the Toronto LGBTQ community.¬† And at a time when Toronto Pride week is so close and we would normally be excited, it is a tough time for many both within the LGBTQ community and for those who simply feel touched, directly or indirectly, by the horrific Orlando shooting.¬† As a psychotherapist I spent much of this past week supporting people as they grieve and work through personal triggers, after the shooting.¬† Feelings of being unsafe seem to be a common thread.¬† Toronto is wondering, ‚ÄúAre we as open-minded and loving as we think we are?‚ÄĚ¬† I believe we want to grieve these events in a positive way and be left feeling we are lucky to live in a wonderful place where we care for each other.¬† But sometimes I sense that people simply do not know how to do so.¬† So I offer some guidance and advice.
We need to protect our mental health and spirit the same we take care of our physical bodies.¬† Please be aware of the energy you are taking in.¬† After the Orlando incident, Facebook was inundated by opinions, comments and posts regarding the tragic event.¬† This is always a mixed experience for me.¬† Even if these are supportive posts, it can still feel overwhelming and lead to us thinking about the event incessantly.¬† This is not healthy for us.¬† I would also suggest we need to be aware of how often we watch the news &/or place our attention and energy onto negative world events.¬† The media always offers a biased view and we feel like we are informed when we may not be well informed at all.¬† It also results in a change in mood and affects your mental health and ability to grieve in a healthy a way.¬† So while it is great to care and get involved in change, we need to be aware of how often we are thinking about only negative events in the world.¬† Please reach out to trusted friends and loved ones to process these feelings and grieve and when you are able, become an agent of change.
One post I saw on FB that stayed with me was a quote by Mr. Rogers, who was a children‚Äôs show host many years ago.¬† ‚ÄúWhen I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‚ÄúLook for the helpers.¬† You will always find people who are helping.¬† To this day, especially in times of ‚Äúdisaster‚ÄĚ, I remember my mother‚Äôs words and I am comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in the world.‚ÄĚ ¬†What I love about this quote is where he chooses to place his energy as he grieves and processes horrific events.¬† I was astounded at how many images I saw of people after the Orlando shooting carrying wounded people to the hospital a few blocks away.¬† I also see the outpouring of love and pain within all people after an event like this, rather than only members of the LGBTQ community.¬† I urge you to remember that we are all in this together.¬† You are not alone.¬† There are helpers and caring people out there.¬† Sometimes helping is a quiet thing that does not make the news.¬† So it takes a bit more cognizance to remember this. ¬†Please reach out and get the support you need.
I hope at Toronto Pride this year we all hold our heads high and remember as we both grieve and enjoy the Pride events that we feel the support and love all round us, and feel comforted and safe in that.¬† I know a horrific event like this is important and will not be forgotten.¬† What I fear is that what is forgotten is the outpouring of love and support that accompanies these awful events.¬† Let‚Äôs remember this too.
By: Lisa Shouldice