Anderson Cooper of CNN made a point of bringing to the forefront the names and actions of the victims and hero’s of the Las Vegas massacre. Cooper downplayed the murderer by avoiding the use of his name and image on his show AC360. Instead Cooper seeks to have the names and faces of the victims remembered and honored by telling their stories.
Cooper’s behavior is a supreme act of humanity. Some would argue his acts to be denial but it’s the exact opposite. It is more painful to look, really look, at what was lost. Anger at the cause or source of that loss prevents mourning. The loss of good life in Las Vegas is sad. Sadness is painful but it is not negative. Neither is anger. But the desire for revenge is negative because it darkens the loving heart. Revenge and bitterness place is on the same level as the murderer.
I saw an interview where comedian Dave Chappell asked Maya Angelou how she could experience all the death and tragedy she did and not feels angry. She replied that she felt anger, that it would be inhuman if she didn’t feel anger. The trick she said was to not become bitter. The desire for vengeance prolongs the suffering and deepens the bitterness.
Anger is a natural part of the healing process. Anger is a defensive and protective mechanism against the immense pain of the loss that most grieving people pass through. Some people don’t go through anger because they go straight to sadness and accept the disappointment and loss. Everyone goes through it differently. Some people shut down. It’s similar to covering a cut with your hand. Some people shut down to protect their loved ones from their pain. This strategy has the bad side effect of putting up a wall between them and the loved ones they seek to protect. I’ve seen families almost fall apart because the wall created distance and broke down communication. It also closes off the heart dimming the light of love. Telling stories is an important step in the healing process keeping the walls down and the heart open. As we grieve as a nation Cooper is helping us get through this insane tragedy.