Each hour that passes, we are hearing more details of the atrocities committed by Hamas fighters who surprised Israelis in their homes, at a festival, at a bus stop and in the street Saturday morning and slaughtered more than 12-hundred men, women, children and babies savagely and indiscriminately.
In an address from the White House, President Biden was visibly shaken.
There are moments in this life when pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed in this world.
Today’s headline – we’ve seen it and it is evil – laid the groundwork for Israeli political leaders to set aside their differences and form an emergency unity government. In today’s insight, I notice how many friends, neighbors, colleagues and clients, thousands of miles from Israel, experience grief as they absorb this shocking news. In today’s tool, see how sticking to a routine, reaching out and time offer you ways to cope with the grief you may be experiencing. Let’s dive in.
The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #18
We’ve seen it and it is evil
These are words coming from soldiers, rescue workers, reporters and diplomats who’ve arrived on the scene of more than 20 massacre sites in southern Israel. They have given us a glimpse into carnage that most of us never want to witness, detailing the brutality of these deadly attacks.
This horror prompted the formation of an Israeli emergency government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and political enemy Benny Gantz, the leader of the opposition National Unity party, joined Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to form a cabinet that will hold most of the authority to wage the military campaign against Hamas.
Gantz is calling for other opposition forces to join this unified government:
At this time, we are all Israel’s soldiers. This is the time for unity.
Hundreds of thousands of troops are near Gaza as Israel has stepped up its offensive. You can read the latest here from the BBC.
The impact of collective grief
Many of my conversations this week have opened with the heaviness people are experiencing as they learn about and reel from the despicable events in Israel.
Here’s what they are saying:
I feel like the whole world is in crisis, I find it hard to pull myself away from this news.
What would possess someone to butcher everyone in a family, from an infant to a grandfather?
The weight I’m experiencing is right here, in my chest, I feel like I can’t take a deep breath as I re-live the horror these people must have felt and are still feeling.
What on earth can I do, other than feel paralyzed?
It’s taking me twice as long to do anything. Every time I take a break, my thoughts are thousands of miles away.
As I listen and respond, I recognize this pain. As a granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors, daughter of a Danish mother whose family was well acquainted with the Resistance Movement in the 1940s, 7-and-a-half years old when our family had to flee Beirut in 1967 after the 6-day war, or covering the aftermath of the war in Bosnia in 1996 as a reporter, I’ve heard the stories and experienced the toll of war. I feel the heavy weight, too.
There is a place and time to feel and experience the grief, and there is also a way to get through that pain so that I can function again.
When I have dried my tears, I remember what gets me through: routine, reaching out and time.
Routine: how do you begin your day? The more I know about myself, the more I know that having a routine, a schedule, a pattern – allows me to flow from what I know how to do into what works. The repetition you otherwise might dread has the potential to bring you joy:
- Water your plants.
- Run with your dog.
- Make your bed.
- Go to work.
- Connect with your partner.
- Cook a meal.
- Wash the dishes.
Reach out: who needs your support right now? I recall that whenever I encountered a rough patch in life, and chose to share it with my mother, the first words out of her mouth were, “what can you do for someone else?”
- Call a friend.
- Visit a neighbor.
- Check in on someone you haven’t heard from.
- Extend a random act of kindness.
- Pick up someone’s trash.
- Write a thank you note.
- Cook a meal for someone outside your family.
Time: healing doesn’t come quickly, if ever. What time offers is a place for you to process the experience, bring down the excruciating pressure and decide what to do with that grief.
Writing in Psychology Today, Leah Royden questions whether time really does heal all wounds. But she finds it is one step in the process,
What that healing will look like, how long it will take, and what you will think and feel and do and experience along the way, nobody can say. Your grief is yours, and nobody can tell you what will happen.
The time factor may help lessen the grief, but that pain never fully goes away.
Two weeks ago, one of my dear friends reached out to me upon hearing that tens of thousands of Armenians were being forced out of their homes in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, writing, “So sorry about the latest troubles in that part of the world.”
Upon hearing the news of the massacre in Israel he was among the first I reached out to, to let he and his wife know that my heart aches, I’m thinking of them and I grieve with them.
This unadulterated evil must not be ignored.
In the coming days, there will likely be a shift in the pattern of grief when there is destruction in Gaza.
As I continue to work and live I will stick to my routine, continue to reach out and know that time will ease this heavy weight on my chest.
And Robert Frost goes before me.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.