In grad school I wrote a paper called Collective Queer Grief in the Aftermath of Hate Crime, trying to unpack my own grieving process, and that of my community’s, 5 years after the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando FL. I knew as I wrote it, as I also knew in 2016, that it would not be the last time I’d be visiting the topic of collective queer grief after a hate-motivated crime.
A few days ago, it happened again. A mass shooting at a gay nightclub, only this time the gunman was stopped by a patron, and is alive to face charges.
When I wrote my paper on collective grieving practices, it was with an intention and a hope that I would be just exactly where I am today – serving, supporting, and participating in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. Let me tell you, I am working hard this week to support myself and my clients.
I’ve noticed in myself that in times of hardship and disconnection, my ‘safe place’ is from an academic distance, with lots of big words and ideas placed between me and my feelings. If I can just understand it, if I can just explain to myself what is happening, then maybe it will take the edge off. But actually, that is a distancing strategy and part of my survival instincts against pain, fear and violence. That’s ok, I get to process in a way that feels safe for me, just like you have the right to process in your way too. For me, thinking is part of collective grief and something I move through. The antidote to fear, the accompaniment of grief, is connection… connection with my feelings, my friends, my communities and remembering what it is to be alive.
Connecting with the folks I work with every day – I hesitate to call them clients, or service users because that doesn’t quite capture the essence of it – is both a privilege and a necessity as we individually and collectively move toward healing and empowerment. Shit like this keeps happening, and we keep going; community is not bound by time, space, or neat separations like client/therapist. And I want to support you!
If you’re interested in reading the paper, I’ll post it. Take care of yourself and your people 😊