June 2016 Blog

From Tragedy to Recovery

The tragic events of two weeks ago with the fatal shooting of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub are still fresh in the minds of many as we struggle to comprehend this senseless killing and move forward in our recovery as a community. It seemed to be a little different (at least for me) when these acts of terrorism occurred in Connecticut, Virginia, or California. But for our (seemingly safe) town of Orlando, FL with our theme parks, water parks, and convenient one hour drive to the beach, it is difficult to grasp. Here, in our community, violence strikes as a result of prejudice, hatred, homophobia, or in support of a terrorist group such as ISIS.

This event has pushed us to examine our individual perceptions of others, our levels of acceptance, tolerance, and prejudice. We must, it seems, be very honest with ourselves about these issues as we otherwise appear as hypocrites in feigning a sense of sadness about this event while secretly believing these people deserved to die because of their sexual orientation or racial background. We can, we must I believe, look straight into our own hearts and ask if we possess the level of tolerance and acceptance taught in many spiritual faiths and realize that we are all basically the same and none of us is better than anyone else.

As a mental health provider, it was important to me to offer my time and services to those impacted by this tragedy. When I learned there were over 600 Counselors who had volunteered their time and services, I was awestruck. I signed up to serve through two local professional organizations but have had only one individual request counseling at this juncture. If you or someone you love has been impacted by this event or are struggling because of this and are in need of counseling, please feel free to contact me for no cost services. I believe it is important we support each other at this time and my personal contribution is through my work and financial support of OneOrlando, a fund set up by Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, to provide financial support to those still recovering in the hospital, those who are survivors of those killed, and for other expenses for the victims and their families.

How do we as individuals and as a community move forward from such tragedy? This is not a quick fix nor does it have an easy remedy. Yet, we have seen and are still seeing the people of this Central Florida community come together in such incredible ways- children making home-made cards for those injured in the club, people giving blood, donating money, participating in vigils and attending memorial services, individuals of all walks of life volunteering their time and services- airline tickets, funeral costs, meals, hotel stays, grief counseling, hospital visits, medical care, referral services. The outpouring of love, resources, and financial assistance underscores the strength and resolve of our Orlando community-terrorism will not, will never defeat us.

A final thought as I reflect on this event is that we can all use our positive energy, spiritual resources, prayer, or meditation to reflect on, pray for, hope for, take up a call to action, or provide financial support if we are able, to hold those who lost their lives in our hearts and memories, with love, compassion, and hope for the future. My hope is that the hatred will be defeated and that love will ultimately win out and be the surviving force in this world.

Peace and Love,

Linda Cook