It’s been a month since the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and 2 teachers lost their lives at Robb Elementary School. No words can explain the emotional pain the families may be experiencing after facing a tragedy. 

Grief is a natural reaction humans experience after facing a loss. 

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Everyone can experience grief differently. The Kübler-Ross model of grief states five common responses after facing a loss. The five stages of grief consist of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are not linear and you can cycle through stages in any order with no set timeline. 

Denial “This can’t be real”

Individuals may struggle accepting the loss of a loved one. When facing a loss, many can experience a sense of shock, numbness, or dissociation the state of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings and memories or losing touch with their reality. 

Anger “Life feels so unfair, why is this happening to me” 

The emotional pain after experiencing the loss of a loved one can feel unbearable. When experiencing grief, anger is a normal reaction. Sometimes, there is no reason or explanation of why things happen and sitting with the discomfort, frustration and anger is valid.

Bargaining “I wish I could have done x, y and z before my loved one passed away”

Bargaining helps the individual take back control in times that feel out of control. This can manifest by attempting to change the outcome of the situation. If a person is spiritual, this stage can look like surrendering to a higher power, hoping to heal from the emotional pain. 

Depression — “I feel hopeless without them”

When an individual acknowledges their loss and sits with the intense emotions of sadness, hopelessness and helplessness, crying can help process and ease that pain.

Acceptance “Life without them feels different and I’m learning to move forward”

Acceptance doesn’t mean getting over the loss, it can mean learning to moving forward and endure the waves of grief or coming to terms with building a connection with a person who is no longer in their physical presence. This can look like storytelling, building a spiritual relationship or practicing rituals they used to practice with their loved ones.

Ways to help someone who is grieving feel seen:

Many individuals in times of heavy emotional pain after experiencing a loss want to feel loved, seen and heard. Active listening allows you to pay close attention and cultivates connection. Listening more and talking less can go a long way. You can use nonverbal communication like maintain eye contact, nodding your head and facial expressions to acknowledge the individual who is grieving. 

What to say to someone who is grieving?

“I’m deeply sorry for your loss.”

“I will keep you and your loved ones in my thoughts/prayers.”

“I am here to listen and help in any way I can.”

“I may not have the right words to stop your pain but know that I love you/I care for you.”

“I am here for you.”

“I can’t imagine how hurtful this may be.”

“Is it okay if I share with you my favorite memory of your loved one?”

“Take all the time and space you need to grieve the loss of…”

“Call me or text me whenever you need someone to talk to.”

Grief recovery can be challenging. A hard truth about grief is that you don’t get over grief, you learn to accept and move forward with it. 

My deepest condolences go out to the victims’ families and the Uvalde community. I may not fully understand the depth of your pain, but know that as a member of the Latinx community, this tragedy weighs heavy on my heart.

In loving memory of the 21 victims of the Uvalde shooting. May you all rest in peace.

Sending you all my best wishes on your healing journey.

Very best, 

Jackie Garcia

LCSW, @therapylux