My friends, I am shaken. This terror in Orlando has hit me at my core and I can’t explain why. I can’t put it into words. I have not been watching local and national news coverage, which has been covering it non-stop for the past several hours since the shooting, but I still know everything. I know all of the latest updates because it is hard to escape. I went to bed last night a bit upset and woke up this morning as I took my little baby boy in my hands and still felt incredibly uneasy. I went to the gym to try to get back into my normal routine, but every single one of the flat screens in the gym had the images, the stories, the interviews. Something isn’t right with me and I can’t explain it, but I know that it has everything to do with this event. Just like you, I am at a loss. In fact, immediately before writing this post, I read a story that popped up on my computer. It showed text messages of one of the victims and his mother right before he lost his life. It was heart breaking. My feelings are not those of anger, but rather those of complete and utter sadness for my brothers and sisters who were taken from us far too soon.

It is important to allow ourselves to be sad. It is important to recognize that you are sad and that you might need some extra time to process what has happened. Perhaps you go to church or find power in prayer. Maybe you cope by posting on social media or maybe you simply hug your friends or family a bit tighter. Whatever you do, I urge you to consider thinking about how you might contribute. This post is not a post about gun laws or politics or sexuality. This is a post about what you can do to help….because we are all affected by this event.

1. Donate Blood. Not only now, but in the future. Thanks to the good people of Orlando, many of the blood banks are full and are actually having to turn away donors at the time of this post. But there will always be a need for blood. If you are able to donate, please consider it. You might never know whose life you are helping or saving, but we are all in this together. Love and generosity will always prevail.

2. Consider a financial donation to a LGBT+ non-profit organization in Orlando. One of the most impressive organizations that I have found is the Zebra Coalition. The Zebra Coalition® is a network of organizations which provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth (LGBT+) ages 13 – 24. The Coalition assists young people facing homelessness; bullying; physical, sexual and drug abuse; and isolation from their families with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability. Their phone lines are open to help anyone in need right now. You can reach them at 407-228-1446.

3. Make a list of positive things. My wife and I just finished watching The Hunger Games final movie (Spoiler Alert), and even though dramatized, the closing thoughts seemed applicable for what we’re all going through now. In the end, one of the characters who has lived through a horrible turn of events is seen comforting a child. The character explains that the way she has survived such horrible events is by making a list of all of the positive things that humans have done in her life and focusing her energy on those. This is of course easier said than done, but if you are able to focus your energy in a positive way, perhaps you will find the strength to keep pushing forward.

4. Pray or mediate. No matter what your religion, belief system or outlook on spirituality is…faith is faith. Believe in something. Believe in the power of positivity. Karma. The stars. Yourself. Whatever you believe in or want to believe in, use your faith to help keep you strong and positive. Allow yourself to grieve, but grieve with empathy and/or sympathy rather than anger and frustration. Focus on being in touch with how you are feeling and acknowledging those feelings.

5. Get help if your grieving process seems like it’s too much for you to bear. None of us is alone…but no one can know that you need help if you don’t reach out. Do not be ashamed if you are depressed. Talk to someone about it, and seek professional help from a doctor to help you sort through your feelings.

I hope you found this post interesting and a bit different from the majority of the news right now, which is reporting on death, hate and the details of the crime. It is natural human nature to be fascinated by these types of events and want to know more, but if we are able to redirect that energy into helping others focus on the positive in such a difficult time, perhaps it will help all of us to move forward with love, compassion and strength. Be safe my friends and thank you for reading. Love to you all.

Cory Warren
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