Feeling Worse about Feeling Better

Feeling Worse about Feeling Better

Neer, detail, visipix.com

Almost two weeks has passed since the tragedy that took place in our community Co-op, and I hate to admit this, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. Grief continues to arrive in waves, but with the tide of the news receded, it no longer floods my days.

It feels good to be relieved of the burden of shock, but is that truly a good thing? Is surrendering to murder akin to accepting it, to tolerating it, to allowing it to become a norm?

I know that I cannot go through my days somber and distraught, but how can I shop in my grocery store without feeling the bloodshed spilled there? Won’t I be dishonoring the man whose life was stolen when I talk to friends in the aisles as if it never happened?

I’ve only been back to the Co-op once since the shooting, and since I’m going out of town again this week, I can put off returning until September.

Is that a good thing?

Will I ever feel the same about my Co-op? Do I want to?

How do I reconcile feeling better when Michael Martin’s family grieves forever?

It’s not just the Co-op that’s tainted from this murder. My own community of Marlboro is too. Last night I stood under the stars with friends at an annual summer party, but I couldn’t get our neighbor, Richard Gagnon, out of my head.

When I pulled into the pond this morning for brunch, I cringed at the thought of the tennis courts where Richard played with his wife; and later that afternoon, I cringed again, when I thought I saw him walking across the beach with two friends.

Am I afraid of Richard? Of someone like Richard? Or am I simply traumatized by the fact that someone among us carried out such an act? That someone else could?

For the first time ever, murder is a topic at our family dinner table. “Are you talking about Richard?” My eleven year old asks. “No,” I reply. “We’re talking about the other murder.”

The other murder.

How is that phrase spoken in our home?  That we can talk about it at all feels good, because until now it hurt too much to admit that it had crept into our world.

Maybe that is why we all walk down the aisles of the grocery store, or gather at the pond, or under the stars without saying much about the crushing loss we must accept if we are to endure.

Kelly Salasin, August 21, 2011

For more on the BFC Tragedy, click here.

3 thoughts on “Feeling Worse about Feeling Better

  1. I am not a member of the Brattleboro community, but I have friends there. I for one am glad that you have been keeping this conversation going. From time to time I do Google searches on this tragic event, but with the exception of your blog, I haven’t seen much ongoing coverage since the initial news stories. I think an ongoing conversation is essential for true healing to take place for everyone.

    I believe it’s not the events in our lives, but how we respond to them that defines us.

    I’ve learned something from every one of your posts, but I think I’d like to comment on your “Blame and Hindsight to the Rescue!” post.

    I think one reason so many of us seem to like both Blame and Hindsight is they make us feel safer. If someone is to “blame” then we can say to ourselves “Yes, they made a mistake, but I would never make that mistake, so I’m safe and will never suffer that tragedy”. With Hindsight, we can say “They should have done that, and I would have done that, and I’ll do it in future if the situation ever comes up, so again I’m safe and will never suffer that tragedy.”

    I think that perhaps if anything can be learned from this tragedy, it might be that there should be a place for all of us in our communities. I think too often, we all try to place “round holes” in “square pegs”. We can have expectations of people that they are not necessarily equipped to meet. Some people make us feel safe, so we can reveal more of our kinder, gentler, more vulnerable selves, and give what we are capable of. Others, with the best of intentions and through no fault of their own, expect things of us we don’t feel capable of giving, so we harden ourselves and become more distant, judgmental, self protective, and on occasions selfish and bullying.

    I think if I’ve taken anything away from your writings and this tragedy, it’s to try to be more sensitive of when people feel “safe” or “unsafe”, to try and learn what people’s capabilities are, to try to support them in giving what they can, and to try and not expect things from them they might not be capable of giving.



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