Let Music Help Us Heal From the Trauma of the Vegas Shooting

I woke up 24 hours ago to the news of people shot at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. I recall the cringe I felt the second I saw the notification on my phone. When I turned on the news, I realized the depth of the horror that was just being revealed from what is now the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

One of my favorite things to do is to attend my local outdoor concert venue, Darlings Waterfront Pavilion, in Bangor, Maine, to escape my current world for a few hours seeing some of my favorites perform live. When I’m listening to music, I don’t think of my pain, tests or procedures, or medical bills. Bryan Adams took me back to my high school years. The Dixie Chicks reminded me of how their music gave me the strength to get through each and every day as a single mom of two little boys. Watching Def Leppard’s drummer, Rick Allen, play his drums with only one arm gave me the tenacity to dig deeper than I had felt I could with the mounting autoimmune issues that had changed my life so drastically. As the news revealed it was Jason Aldean (who has frequented our Bangor stage) playing at the moment the shots started ringing out, I couldn’t imagine the sheer terror that the 22,000 people must have felt as this horror took over their night of escaping their own realities and enjoying live music.

Those 22,000 music lovers’ lives have forever been changed from the trauma they experienced on Oct 1, 2017. On that night, 59 of those music lovers lost their lives in the most horrific of manners, and 527 of those music lovers will forever bear physical reminders of a night that was supposed to be fun but turned to horror. The first responders’ lives will never be the same. Artists whose talent is to bring people back to a sweet moment in time, or to help them to look forward to better times, now must face a fear that they have never had before when stepping on stage in our country.

There are many studies that show trauma can lead to chronic pain. This connection is because of the state of arousal that the nervous system is left in after experiencing such trauma. PTSD is one example of how someone’s entire being can be changed from trauma. Childhood trauma has also been proven to lead to chronic pain in adulthood. How many children were there for their first concert last night who will never ever be able to attend a concert or listen to music again without being reminded of the horrors they lived through? How many healthy individuals who attended the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival will now forever be dealing with chronic pain? As we try to process what happened yesterday, let us not forget to take care of our emotional selves.

– Take a walk, get those endorphins moving instead of being in a constant state of sadness, fear and stress.

– Turn off the news on occasion, or completely. Do your best to turn off that constant state of sadness. If you must watch TV, find something to laugh at or that makes you feel better. Your emotions and health will be better for it.

– Children who are verbal will not be able to be isolated from this news, no matter how hard you try. They will hear about this either from classmates, or from friends, perhaps from conversations you think they are not hearing or worse yet, they may see something on the news that will scare them. It’s important to help them to process what has happened. Mr. Rogers shared a wonderful quote of how to help children process such tragedies. “Remind them to look for the helpers.”

There were so many helpers in Las Vegas.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." – Fred Rogers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

– Lastly, my personal soul soother is to keep listening to music.

“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure, and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.” – Tom Petty

Not only did we lose at least 59 music lovers to this national tragedy, we also lost one of our music greats. It seemed the news kept going from horrible to even worse with the confirmation of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Tom Petty’s passing last night. The 24-hour time span from October 1 to October 2, 2017, will probably go down as one of the worst 24 hours in music history. As we all try to process the horrors of yesterday, don’t forget to keep listening to the music.

“Some days are diamonds. Some days are rocks.” – Tom Petty, “Walls”


This post first appeared in The Battle Within.

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Lead photo courtesy of Jason Aldean Fan Club Facebook page

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