Following the tragic events of last Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand (NZ), things seem different. Or maybe it's just me.
For the last few days, a lot of us have been trying to come to terms with the horror that unfolded. 'Surreal' is the most heard word used to describe what transpired. It doesn't happen here, this is not who we are, NZ is a caring country. Yet, it happened.
Feelings of numbness, sadness, guilt, regret, and anger ebbed and flowed across most of us.
Over the last few days since this tragedy, have you noticed how people seem to be more caring, more polite, there's no longer a rush any more. People are talking, sharing, caring, grieving, and crying.
Not me though, I am different and can handle this stuff, it's what I do for a living, keep moving forward, onward and upward. Maybe it's just me?
Like so many others, I continued about my day, stopping every so often on to reflect on what had occurred, but carrying on as there's work to be done. Sometimes feeling grateful that my family was safe, that the perpetrator was arrested, that he wasn't from NZ, that justice will prevail in the end, that time will heal all, that we can move on, that everything will be alright in the end.
Then, today, I went to Christchurch.
I went to Christchurch for a couple of meetings - one with my friend Nathan Wallis, the other with a caring organisation who helps workplaces with wellbeing. Great meetings; lots of talking, lots of sharing, lots of positivity, and a hug or two for comfort in what we had talked about. Friendship in the face of adversity.
In tragedy comes many things, the one that shone the most today was 'reaching out'. Nathan, the Executive GM of TriEx, the ex-colleague, the regional manager from the Rural Support Trust, the CEO of NZAA, the friend from my childhood who was on the plane home, all reached out to say "Hi".
I try to avoid this stuff, I do not need to feel what is going on, I do this for a job.
I did not recognise most of them, and had my head down as I often do, thinking about 'things'. Yet, they took the time and went out of their comfort zone to stop me and say "Hi". Humbling how strong the human spirit can be. Or, maybe it's just me.
Then, I arrived home at Auckland airport. As I walked out a voice called, "Hey Lance". Unexpected, as no one should be there to greet me. A man stood smiling in front of me, I did not recognise him but smiled back to greet him. "I was in your session at Fulton Hogan and remembered what you told us, it has helped me so much". "Thank you" I replied, "I am so pleased".
"I am here to meet my brother-in-law, he was killed last Friday".
The best I could do was, "I'm so sorry". And I hugged him, many times. For him first, and then again for him, and then again for him, as we chatted. The last time the hug was not for him, but for me, and I told him so. I selfishly wanted to feel his love. I was overwhelmed with sadness, with grief, with wanting to connect and to make it all better, to make it go away. But, maybe that's just me.
We each shed a tear, or maybe again it was just me.
Tragedy strikes when we least expect it, that's why it is called a tragedy. If we knew it was coming then we could prepare for it and it wouldn't be called a tragedy. The way to get through a tragedy is to open our hearts, not our heads, to grieve, to cry, to share, to feel, to care, to hug, and to love. That's how humankind (human kind) has survived, by caring for each other.
Grieve, feel pain, feel anger, feel hurt, feel sorrow, feel love. And, talk about it, openly, in a respectful and caring way. It is normal to feel this way, it's not just me, it is you as well.
We will get through this, together. Let's talk!