In light of the recent shooting of three RCMP officers, the Moncton, New Brunswick community can breathe easier now that they are free from imminent violence and danger, but now the difficult part begins – grief and healing.
How does a small community learn to feel safe after experiencing that level of threat and violence and being subject to home lockdown, while police tracked a man armed with assault rifles? How does the same community recover from the loss of three men who were fathers, colleagues, brothers and sons of many of the community members?
It would be only too easy for a community like Moncton to remain angry and unforgiving at not only the man who committed these crimes, but at the failure of those around him to recognize warning signs and allowing deadly weapons in the hands of someone capable of such violence. However, healing is possible when individuals in the community rely on each other and use their shared grief to move forward. Recovery occurs through the participation in formal settings, like participation in memorials, vigils and community gatherings, but healing also takes place in the small moments, between friends and family members, verbalizing their grief by speaking about their loss and confusion. In a small, tight-knit community such as Moncton, and their closeness will no doubt aid in their path to healing.
Community leaders play a vital role in the healing of an entire community, as they need to recognize and assess the needs of the community members and encourage understanding and tolerance when it is almost impossible to do so. These leaders – political, educational, business, religious – have the unique responsibility to manage their own grief in addition to guiding the community members to the next stage of healing when they are ready.
In the case of such reckless violence and loss, we may be at a loss to comprehend the reasons why the shooter took this particular course of action, or how his state of mental health played into his decision-making. The community must remember that while there may be no understanding this tragedy, recovery is possible through forgiveness and love.
As surrounding supporters of the Moncton community, what can we do to learn from their experience? Perhaps it is to remember that every day matters and that, since life can be unpredictable, we need to hold on tight to what is important and learn to never take it for granted.
How else can the community of Moncton manage their grief? What is important for them to remember? I look forward to your thoughts below.