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I’m glad you chose to join me for this discussion on Collective Grief. What do you think Collective Grief means? The name kind of gives it away. 

Collective grief is when a loss occurs and it’s felt by a group. 

Collective grief doesn’t have to limited to one’s local neighborhood. Collective grief can occur when a traumatic event happens in one’s state, society, nation, or world wide. I can recall when terrorist attacked Paris in 2015. The devastation was felt worldwide. Buildings and monuments in many countries including Australia, Pyramids of Giza, Dubai, London, Mexico City, Tokyo, and many more places expressed mourning and support by lighting up landmarks in blue, white, and red, which are the colors of the French flag. 

Collective grief can be the result of many different types of traumatic events, such as war, death of a public figure, act of terrorism, a hate crime, or a natural disaster. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane took almost 2,000 lives, and in 2010, Haiti experienced massive earthquakes that impacted an estimated 3 million people. Videos, pictures, and stories allowed people all over the world to witness theses natural disasters and it’s impact on fellow human beings. The loss experienced brought grief to many communities and nations.

Collective grief can be validating for some. Being able to verbalize and express your sadness, disbelief, or anger after a loss and have a group of people who are also having the same reaction can bring comfort. It reminds you that you’re not alone. That someone else is having the same experience as you. When you realize that you’re not alone, empowerment steps in. In 2018, there was a school shooting in Parkland, Florida and 17 people were killed. The students of that school came together and not only vocalized their grief, but in a matter of 5 weeks, they put together a national protest called March for Our Lives where they expressed their concerns and desires for a change in gun laws. Them coming together is an example of when people share a common feeling, they can become empowered to strive to make changes. 

When 9/11 happened here in the U.S., there was an increase in enlistment into the military and supporting government agencies. Some joined because they saw others experiencing the same feelings they were having and was empowered to take action to hopefully make a difference. 

Collective grief also allows people to mourn together. When a public figure dies or a murder happens in a community, here in the U.S., many times there’s a candlelit vigil. When someone dies in a family, there’s usually a funeral or a memorial service. In D.C. and on government properties, the flag will fly half mast in response to a tragedy. Some people call these acts a ritual or a tradition. However you want to see them, it’s undeniably a way for people to  mourn together. For us to feel validated in our grief. 

Another common way collective grief can be experienced is by going to a memorial. There are memorials all over the world that shed light on historical tragedies, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., the Korean War Memorial in South Korea, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, or the Taj Mahal in India. All of these memorials are for us to come together to mourn and remember those who have died. 

Collective grief doesn’t always mean people will come together and agree on how to mourn or what the next steps should be. The United States was shook after the Columbine High School shooting. 13 people were killed, the 2 shooters were killed and 20 others were wounded. I was in middle school at the time and I can recall seeing news reports entire demeanor change as they tried to hold back tears while sharing the tragic information. Weeks after the shooting, a gentleman drove several states over to Colorado to make a memorial for those who were killed that day. He brought

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