Anyone who is familiar with the popular music festival SXSW knows that tragedy struck my community this week. Not only is SXSW a city-wide celebration, I’ve participated professionally – both on the interactive side as a subject matter expert, and as the “momager” of an emerging hip hop artist who is performing this year. So this hurt hits close to home.

This sad event comes right on the heels of an awful case for one of my patient advocacy clients. And it occurs to me that there is a life skill shared in the latter situation that inspires my feelings of frustration with all of the chatter online about this week’s horrible and unfortunate event. What I’m referring to is the ability to own our pain before attempting to take stock in circumstances.

I posted the following on my personal Facebook page this morning:

I just need to say something about the devastating SXSW carnage night before last. I’m just kind of amazed at all of the second guessing, police bashing, and civic problem-solving being thrown at this tragic situation on threads like several on my wall and every other post I’ve seen since it happened. Let’s just sit with this bad thing, shall we?

Bad, tragic things happen. In this case a fellow human being did something unfathomable. Period. He chose to drink to excess, get behind the wheel of a stolen car, and attempt to evade police. There is no way to inoculate ourselves from this kind of “bad thing” repeating itself over and over again in perpetuity in our society. There just isn’t.

No positive attitude or wishful thinking or hindsight is going to prevent a tragedy like this. We must feel it in our bones. We much come to grips with this dark side of our species and stop throwing mental energy at it as if WE or our ideas could have prevented it.

We couldn’t have. And now we must grieve.

The common denominator with my recent patient advocacy case is this: truly unfathomable things were happening to my client in the midst of a traumatic hospitalization. And to deal with it we didn’t throw blame and we didn’t wring our hands before dealing with the powerful emotions of the situation. We dealt with the shock to her system with a powerfully effective tool to mitigate her amygdala hijack. We gave caregivers critical information they needed to better care for her. And we began to deal effectively with hospital errors and the urgent need for changes in assigned personnel.

This was a beginning.

My client is just beginning her healing journey. From a place of ever increasing clarity notices are being filed as are complaints with the proper authorities. Stories about this case will be shared again and again in order to help inspire change.

An so it goes in my community and with the people affected by this week’s events. Funerals are being planned. Families are grieving. Fellow festival goers are fighting for their lives and their regained health as we speak. City officials are no doubt studying what might be done to minimize the inevitable repeat of another similar event like this in our midst one day.

This is how we learn. This is how we grow.