Coping with terror
Ryan Summerlin July 20, 2012
EAGLE COUNTY – Ascher Robbins will go to the movies again, of course. But next time, he’ll pay attention to where he’s sitting and where the exits are.
Robbins, who grew up in the valley and now attends law school at the University of Colorado, was at least two counties away from the early Friday morning shooting at an Aurora movie theater showing the latest “Batman” movie. But he did attend a 1 a.m. show in Boulder.
After the movie, he got home and got online to see if there were some plot points he missed. That’s when he saw the first notice of the shooting.
“I got home about 4 a.m. and ended up staying up ’til about 6 a.m.,” Robbins said. “I’m sure it was because of what happened.”
What happened in Aurora was, and is, unbelievable in any number of ways. But for someone who was at a similar show, that unbelievability is even more keen.
Robbins said mass shootings often bring out anxiety and more in some people.
Henry Goetze, a psychologist with an office in Avon, said talking about horrific events can be difficult, but it’s important. Friends and family members need to be helpful however they can, Goetze said, even if that means just holding someone’s hand or providing a hug.
When kids want to know about these events, Goetze said adults need to “lead them gently to understanding” the event.
“Offer reassurance the child is safe and this isn’t something that’s at the front door,” he said.
Local ministers can help guide congregation members through tough times, too.
Father Brooks Keith, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, was off camping with his family Friday. In a phone message, he said he and others at the church will be offering special prayers for healing. He said he and other ministers, here and in Aurora, will be “doing what Christians do – reaching out to others.”
While many churches will be praying for healing, Pastor Kari Reiquam of First Lutheran Church in Gypsum said it’s important to recognize events like the Aurora shooting for what they are – examples of real evil the world.
While we can offer comfort to each other, Reiquam said we also need to use tragedy to learn and grow – as people and as a culture.
“We have a terrible mental health system in this country – we have terrible gun laws,” Reiquam said. “We saw it in Columbine, and I don’t think much has changed.”
Reiquam added that a shooting in a theater poses the danger of taking away a place people gather. In a world where people seem to be isolating themselves from each other, that’s a great loss, she said.
“I hope we’d find a way to re-connect with each other,” she said.