Monday night, I kept waking up wishing that what happened that day was just a bad dream. My breathing shallow, my thoughts racing, I felt anxious and unsettled.
Daphne was killed? Is this real?
I barely got any work done on Tuesday. The moment I began to form a sentence, I was interrupted by a whatsapp message or a Facebook update. We were all trying to figure it out, asking each other questions and throwing fragments of information towards each other in the internet sphere.
We lost our Batman. Daphne symbolised a fearlessness that most of us don’t have. No matter how threatened she was, she pursued. She seemed invincible to us. Daphne could say whatever she wanted to say; she was untouchable. And anyway, no one would really hurt her because people aren’t really that bad, right?
Monday afternoon, we all suddenly learnt that what we believed was no longer real. Daphne isn’t invincible. We no longer have a Batman. Our country is no longer a place where freedom of speech is accepted.
When trauma occurs, what we know as true is suddenly ruptured. Our beliefs are brought into question, and we are left grappling with the evidence trying to make some sense out of it.
We are all connected
We need to keep in mind that this trauma has happened on a systemic level. Whether Daphne was someone you respected or not, her murder has an impact on all of us. It screams that we can no longer assume that our country is a safe place to live. It calls into question what more is happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about. We wonder who we can trust and what the future of our country is going to be like.
Since we are all impacted by this crime and tragedy, we all have a responsibility to help ourselves and our country to heal. We need to create collective resilience. At the moment, many of us feel unsure of where to turn. So, we cannot wait for a leader to show us how to be resilient. We need to create it ourselves.
How to be resilient in times of crisis
The Vigil that was held on Monday by no means solved the problem, but it brought people together. It sent a message of support to Daphne’s family and it reminded us that though there are evil forces in this world, there is also good – a lot of good.
Keep fostering togetherness in whatever way you can – family dinner, meet up with friends, a coffee with a colleague. Studies show that interpersonal connectedness is one of the most significant factors in resilience and healing from trauma.
Our bodies respond to trauma in so many ways, from our prefrontal cortexes disconnecting, to our stress hormones spiking, to our breathing becoming shallow, to our muscles tensing. This is because our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode, and yes, this can happen even if we are experiencing the event vicariously.
If we read about the news on the internet, we may experience the impact of fight-or-flight but not the movement that comes with it. We don’t run and we don’t fight. We sit. We carry the tension and heightened cortisol production but we don’t get to metabolise the reaction. It is, therefore, really important to help your body to process the trauma. MOVE. Get up and go for a walk. Go to yoga. Go for a run. And if you can get a buddy to go with you, even better.
Express your sympathy
I think many of us are struggling with the harsh reality that fell on Daphne’s family on Monday. Not only was their mother/wife ripped away from them but it happened in such a cruel and unforgivable way.
I have seen some really heartfelt posts on facebook. I believe this is part of the healing process – expressing our sympathy and letting the family know that we grieve with them. Because we do, we sincerely do.
So find the way that feels right to you and express your sympathy, whether through a facebook post, a prayer, or by lighting a candle.
Let Daphne live through you
Since Monday, I’ve read many people ask, “Who will take her place?” I believe some people are genuinely scared of what will happen if we don’t have our vigilante around anymore.
One of the main reasons we admire others is because they embody qualities we wish we could have ourselves. With Daphne, it might have been her courage, her boldness, or her unrelenting desire to seek the truth. I invite you to identify which characteristics of Daphne’s you applaud. When you’ve chosen two or three, make a promise to work on developing these qualities within yourself. This way, we make sure to honour her hard work in a way that feels right to us.
Learn more about the physiological and psychological impact of trauma.