Huffpost Healthy Living

What We Can Learn From Witnessing Tragedies (WATCH)

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Last weekend tragedy struck the University of California Santa Barbara community when a student went on a stabbing and shooting rampage before turning the gun on himself. When devastating events occur, we can become paralyzed by sadness, loss and grief. Struggling to come to terms with an unimaginable reality can leave us confused and with a profound sense of loss.

Grief and loss specialist David Kessler spent the past few days helping students, faculty and the greater UCSB community process the overwhelming pain they are feeling as a result of the massacre. Kessler joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani today to discuss the lessons we all learn from witnessing tragedies such as this one.

“There was a sadness you could feel there that was in sharp contrast to, 'This should be a happy time,'” said Kessler. “It was their graduation coming up in a couple of weeks... It’s this tragedy on tragedy, it’s death and loss in the midst of a time that should be happy... For many of them, this is their first experience with loss."

As one of the counselors offering assistance this weekend, Kessler felt his primary job was to simply listen to the students.

“It’s something very primal -- that grief must be witnessed,” he said. “So that’s what a lot of this is… It’s not counseling per se. You’re keeping them safe, you’re standing in the pain, you’re hearing the story over and over, and just really helping them get through these moments in this time of their life -- probably the worst moments they’re ever going to experience. The reality is grief is not like a cold. You don’t get over it. You don’t recover from it. Instead you really learn to live with it in time.”

To hear more of Kessler’s insights on how to cope with loss and grief from painful tragedies like the UCSB shooting, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.

 
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