Grief is a journey. Sometimes — such as the horrific Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas — it has a definitive starting point. By necessity, however, each individual will process tragedy differently.
Two years ago on the south end of the Strip, 58 people died in the worst mass shooting in American history. They were husbands and wives. Fathers and mothers. Sons and daughters. Aunts and uncles. Friends and co-workers. The end of their lives meant dreams unfulfilled. Memories never made. Friendships never formed. Children never born. That level of tragedy can’t be adequately defined. It’s why moments of silence are so poignant. We can reflect only on what could have been — what should have been.
Hundreds more were wounded that night. It seemed difficult to find someone in the valley without a connection to someone who knew someone suffering a loss or trauma. It’s easy to track the progress of someone’s physical healing. Doctors can watch broken bones heal and remove stitches. Scars fade. Bruises disappear.
But emotional healing doesn’t follow a set timeline.
For some, the events of two years ago may seem like yesterday. The slamming of a car door triggers a feeling of unspeakable terror. Others may feel like the shooting is in the distant past. They know it happened, but rather than deep and difficult emotions, they feel only numbness.
There is no right way to experience grief, but there is a wrong way — alone and isolated. For those who know someone who experienced loss or trauma, check in. See how your friend or family member is doing. You may receive a cursory response, but don’t be discouraged. You have let them know that they and the loss they experienced are not forgotten. Keep checking in, too. Grieving people need relationships for the times when sorrow comes uninvited and unexpectedly.
Let us remember the heroes, of course. Law enforcement officers and civilians rushed to the scene, endangering their lives to save others. Doctors and nurses saved countless lives. Reporters, including many from the Review-Journal, rushed to the scene to separate fact from social media fiction. People waited in line for hours to donate blood. The Vegas Golden Knights and their magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals embodied the city’s resiliency and dedication to overcoming hardship. Our community experienced the unity that only calamity can birth.
That’s why it’s good to see the Clark County Commission and Gov. Steve Sisolak move forward on plans for a permanent Route 91 memorial. The anguish of tragedy isn’t pleasant, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.
We remember, and we mourn.