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Monday, July 23, 2012

Expert Offers Tips on How to Heal from 'The Dark Night Rises' Tragedy

Dr. Mark Lerner
On July 20, 2012, evil himself appeared in the exit of a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. I’ve chosen not to give his name in this blog post. This post is not for the cruel maniacal person who entered that Aurora theatre to harm others; instead, this post is to help start the healing process. To date, there are 70 victims in this tragedy; 58 injured and twelve ranging from ages 51 to six-years-old lost their lives.

Notes of encouragement and solidarity from other states and communities across the U.S. are pouring in to let the people of Aurora know they are not suffering in this pain alone. For those family and friends who are grieving and watching everything unfold in-person and in the national news there is help. population-we™ has reached out to “America’s Traumatic Stress Consultant” Dr. Mark Lerner to help our readers. He has opened up his website,, to us with some practical information. First, Dr. Lerner will address advice for the Aurora theater victims.

A victim is someone who’s been harmed and who’s suffering.

A survivor is someone who, despite hardship and adversity, continues to function.

A thriver is someone who grows and flourishes. Read more here.

This shooting is close to home for many who live in Colorado. Only 15 miles away in Littleton, Colo., where the 1999 Columbine High School massacre took place. My great aunt and uncle lived only blocks away from Columbine High School at the time. I remember at a family gathering Evy telling the story that her and Doc (my great uncle Wayne) kept hearing sirens not thinking anything of it -- until the sirens didn’t stop. They turned on the television and watched in terror what had happened.

Another reason why we wanted to reach out, Omaha, Neb., where most population-we™ contributors reside has not been spared by these senseless shooting tragedies. In 2007, the Omaha Von Maur Westroads Mall was the site of a mass shooting where a sole 19-year-old gunman killed eight people and injuring five others before killing himself. My mom had just been shopping there the day before. In 2011, a 17-year-old senior at Millard South High School killed the principal before taking his own life in the school’s parking lot. We have a dear friend whose daughter was a freshman at Millard South at the time.
Courtesy of

Second, Dr. Lerner addresses tips on helping others grieve: “There are no ‘cookbook’ approaches to helping people who are struggling with loss. Perhaps the most important variable is ‘being there’ for the person. Encourage expression of thoughts and feelings without insistence.” Read more here.

Finally, advice on parenting in the midst of a crisis. According to Dr. Lerner, “Tell children what they need to know, don’t share more information than they’re able to hear or understand, encourage them to articulate their feelings, and answer their questions honestly and directly. And if you don’t know the answer, it’s okay. Tell them that you don’t know.” Read more here.

Those victims who managed to survive this senseless tragedy, as well as family and friends will never be the same. Let’s not let this gas-masked shooter steal anything more from us. Flags will fly at half-staff across the U.S. until sunset Wednesday, July 25, to honor the lives of the Aurora, Colo. victims. So, forget the killer's name and as a nation come together and start to heal.

- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown 
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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1 comment:

  1. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the families and friends who were present at the tragedy in Aurora. Thank you, Dr. Lerner for helping with the healing process. As I purchased his book CrisisNotes, I know how important receiving the proper help in the early days of healing is.