It’s been a devastating week for too many communities grieving in the wake of violence. Everyone on the Love is Louder team and in the JED community is heartbroken, and sending our support to anyone coping with tragedy and loss. Watching the news coverage and politicized arguments about solutions can be overwhelming.

It’s OK to acknowledge the pain that we’re feeling, and it’s OK to disconnect and take time to help ourselves and the people around us. To be effective advocates for change, we have to stay strong and be proactive about our emotional health.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen a lot of our online community members struggling with the best way to process the pain, communicate their opinions, and advocate for change. Our team came together to create tips to help us get through this difficult time, together. At the end of this article, you’ll find links where you can use your voice, time and resources to take a stand against discrimination, racism and the senseless violence that is devastating communities across our country. 

Coping with Tragedy: It's OK to Press Pause


Stop scrolling, turn the news off, put down your phone, and take a moment for yourself. Take a deep breath. While there are positive aspects of our digital lives, it can also create a channel for us to be reactive in a way that isn’t always productive. When you see or hear something about tragedy, discrimination or violence that triggers an emotional response, take a minute before you type, speak or react. Give yourself a moment to disconnect, take a few deep breaths and put things in perspective. This will help you determine which reactions are going to help you cope and contribute to solving the problem, and which reactions might cause more hurt or be counterproductive. It’s important to stay informed and to be an advocate, but we can only do that if we are taking care of ourselves as well. 

Coping with Tragedy: It's OK to Press Pause


When we think about the magnitude of the pain being felt by people directly impacted by violence and tragedy, it can be hard to give our own reactions or feelings much weight. The reality is, this trauma impacts all of us. While the instinct to jump into advocate mode and worry about our own pain later is reasonable, it isn’t always effective or healthy. To be effective advocates for change and the loudest voices for victims and their families, we have to take care of ourselves first. It’s OK to disconnect and focus on something else to better process our feelings. It’s OK to go for a walk, go to the gym, or turn off the news and turn on some music. And it’s OK to reach out to friends, a family member or a counselor to help you find the best ways to cope.

Coping with Tragedy: It's OK to Press Pause


Those of us who have dealt with trauma, discrimination and/or violence in our own lives or who are managing a mental health condition like depression, may be more vulnerable to feelings of hopelessness after news of a violence and tragedy. We don’t always know what our friends, coworkers or family members have been through or the battles they are fighting. In difficult moments, it’s important that we are looking out for each other. Take a minute to look at some of the warning signs of depression, distress and hopelessness (see list below). If you notice someone is struggling, trust your instinct and start a conversation. Here are some tips for starting that conversation.

Coping with Tragedy: It's OK to Press Pause


When faced with violence and loss, our gut instinct is often “I have to do something.” Sometimes, this results in people reposting news articles or videos about the tragedy, expressing anger, or participating in arguments on and offline that make us feel more divided. When you feel the instinct to repost a story with disturbing details or videos of violence, take a minute to ask yourself why you are sharing it. Make sure your purpose in sharing the article is to provide information that contributes to a solution, highlight action items your friends and followers can take, or offers resources or support to those who might need it. Constructive conversations on social media or at work/school can help educate and mobilize advocates. When conversations turn into name-calling and political mudslinging, they are no longer effective and can add to the anxiety and frustration we are feeling.

Check out this article from Dazed on being careful about sharing violent videos and other ways to be an ally. 

Visit our partners at Color of Change and The Steve Fund for more ways to get involved and use your time, voice and resources to create change.

Sign Color of Change’s Petition and Demand #JusticeforFloyd

Find more resources and ways to get help. 

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