VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Just three days after 12 of our neighbors were violently killed in the mass shooting at the Municipal Center, Navy widow, grief counselor and author Joanne Steen said there is unquestionably a ripple effect throughout the community, even if we didn't know the victims personally.
"Think about it," she said. "We've had this sudden and traumatic tragedy. It was sudden. It was intentional. It was not random. It was deliberate. This is our home town."
For the local military, there have been numerous large scale tragedies: the USS Cole, the USS Iowa, the Navy SEAL helicopter crash, the 203rd Red Horse National Guard plane crash.
Steen said there are lessons to be learned from them.
"And the military these days is well trained in handling problems like this, or recognizing things like, you are going to have the after-effects of a trauma, you are going to have to take care of the people, you are going to have to be mindful, you are going to have to keep them informed and to a large degree, keep them educated, because, we don't know what we don't know," she said.
But mostly, Steen said the rest of us need to understand, there is no time limit.
"The very first step in healing is the ability to mourn, is the ability to say, something awful has happened and I feel bad about it," she said."There's no easy way to get through the next 6, 12, 18 months. Especially when you realize, it takes a year just for the reality of sudden death to sink in. It takes a year."
Steen said in her latest book, one of the keys to resilience, is having the grit and the gumption to not let tragedy win.