Healing as a Community


I think it’s safe to say that there’s a newfound (or not) collective anxiety surrounding the news about Jacob Wetterling. Undoubtedly, this anxiety is typical, and allows us to feel human – aka, that we are feeling/emotional beings, which makes us unlike the person who carried out this horrendous crime. We MUST feel, no matter how awful that is. And in that feeling state, comes a statement from Patty Wetterling, which so many of us have heard:

“I also hope this is a time for neighbors and complete strangers to come together and start the healing process.”

In light of this appeal, the following occurred the other evening when out to dinner at a local restaurant.

We were sitting as a family at a table in the middle of the restaurant, gob smacked and somber, following the revelation of what Jacob endured the evening of his abduction – though also attempting to temper the despair for our daughter, who was intently doodling on her Etch-a-Sketch and seemingly unaware of the climate. I noticed a family at the table next to us, and at one point, their little boy dropped a spoon that I retrieved. This led to some cheerful exchange between the toddler and me, and we then began talking to the parents as well. While keeping Patty’s request in mind, but still taking a chance, I asked the family, “Do you guys want to join us? We could move these tables together.” They agreed, perhaps reluctantly at first, but as we talked and ate together, the laughter and conversation brought about a kind of warmth that tends to derive from connecting with others, be it friends, family, or in this case, strangers. We sat there for over an hour, and as we stood up to leave, I couldn’t keep the tears from welling, as veritable healing indeed had just occurred. It was therapy, and a practice I hope to continue in the future.

Our feelings might certainly be able to exist in a vacuum, and some of us better heal when alone, no question. But in allowing grief to converge with others, I think it’s possible to feel our humanity, and not just anxiety. At least I did.


Written by Ann Kellogg, MS LPC