The Pulse of Grief, Six Months Later

Half a year ago, 49 people died without warning in an evil attack at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. For six months, these victims’ loved ones — parents and partners, siblings and children, other family and friends — have privately and publicly mourned their beloved ones.  Just (or should I say already?) 26 weeks ago our city — and with television and Internet coverage, the world — ground to a halt in emergency response, physical recovery, and remembering.

In the 180-some days since those horrible, early morning hours, Orlando’s outward pace has accelerated almost back to normal in a deceptive echo of the trite, insensitive dismissal — “life goes on” — some shove at the bereaved.

"You Mattered" Pulse Birds (photo by Teresa TL Bruce,

“You Mattered” Pulse Birds painted outside an Orlando business (photo by Teresa TL Bruce,

I have hope, though, that many hearts better understand the open-ended nature of grieving. Murals, T-shirts, store marquees, and hashtags all around town (#OrlandoStrong and #OrlandoUnited) display the love and pride my city’s citizens express in memory of the victims and in support of their loved ones. Surely, with such vivid visual reminders, we will keep these loved ones’ lost lives present in ways that will help their families rather than harm them.

I’m grateful for the media coverage focusing on the coming-together of disparate parts of our community. People who didn’t know any of those who were slain actively reach out to show their support for the people grieving them.

It’s important to remember, though, that most people mourning loved ones don’t have national or even local media reminding everyone of grief milestones — such as the six or twelve or eighteen or twenty-four months — since their loved ones died.

For many who grieve, such commemorations pass in lonely, heartbroken silence.  Death anniversaries — even “monthiversaries” — can be difficult. So please, reach out to those you know who have lost someone recently.


2 thoughts on “The Pulse of Grief, Six Months Later

  1. Thanks for the reminder!

    I think it’s also important to note that loss date milestones can also create erratic behavior in grievers that non-grievers can initial (and ignorantly) attribute to rudeness.

    When I was teaching middle school, one of my students who normally gave me a hard time anyway was exceptionally disrespectful one day such that I had to expel him from my class. I found out later that it was the anniversary of his father’s murder. After we’d both had an opportunity to calm down, we exchanged (good) words and were able to build a deeper teacher-student relationship because I was aware of his pain and could be sensitive to it.

    You really never know what people are going through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made a crucial point. Even on so-called “regular” days, it takes only a flicker to shift from grief to gruff … On death anniversaries (and on holidays, birthdays, etc.), it can happen between one breath and the next. I am so grateful for the friends who overlooked my prickly days while not overlooking me when I most needed (yet seemed to ignore) them.


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