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Cover image: John Locher, AP Images

The aftermath of a mass shooting can leave all of us feeling terribly vulnerable. Even if you weren’t in Las Vegas on Sunday night, chances are you’ve wondered what you would have done, wondered if something like this might ever happen to you, and wondered how something like this could even happen. The emotional shock of something this awful can leave us feeling powerless and searching for answers.

One of the most important things we can do for our own mental and emotional health is to offer care and support to those affected. While we may be powerless to stop future tragedies, we are powerful in responding to the needs right in front of us.

There were reports of hundreds of Las Vegas citizens lining up to donate blood, people from all over the world have donated over three million dollars to the relief fund for victims, and medical facilities and personnel have donated their time and resources to save lives.

The darkness of this evil act has been met with the light of millions of people responding with a sincere desire to help. We still don’t have all the answers about this senseless massacre, but we do know that there are good people in the world who will step up when a crisis strikes.

You may wonder what to say to your children about the shooting. If they don’t know about it, then no need to mention it. If they ask you about it, then keep it short and simple. Recognize that it can feel scary to live in an unpredictable world. Remind them of what they CAN count on, such as a safe home to live in, family who loves them, and other securities. Remind them that even if tragedy strikes, they will have love and support. Show them examples of people who have responded and encourage them to offer help. Even a small child can give a little bit of money, draw a picture, or offer a prayer so they know they’re making a difference.

Don’t spend a lot of time panicking about this happening to you. Carry on in your life and don’t live in fear. We suffer more from trying to control everything in our lives than we do from living our lives and responding when the unexpected happens.  Trust that good people will step in and help. We are surrounded by good people everywhere who will be mobilized into action the second there is real need.

Instead of looking around wondering when tragedy will strike next, try looking around to see the good people around you who you can guarantee will be on your side if something awful were to happen. We’ve seen it recently with Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria. We’ve seen it with earthquakes, wildfires, and other disasters. And, we saw it again on Sunday night and throughout the past few days as people have dropped what they’re doing to offer help and support.

President Dieter F. Utchdorf spoke extensively on this idea in the April 2017 General Conference. His words offer great comfort and perspective:

“…Satan wants us to…[dwell] upon and even [exaggerate] the evil in the world. Certainly our world has always been, and will continue to be, imperfect. Far too many innocent people suffer because of circumstances of nature as well as from man’s inhumanity. The corruption and wickedness in our day are unique and alarming.

But in spite of all this, I wouldn’t trade living in this time with any other time in the history of the world. We are blessed beyond measure to live in a day of unparalleled prosperity, enlightenment, and advantage. Most of all, we are blessed to have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives us a unique perspective on the world’s dangers and shows us how to either avoid these dangers or deal with them.

When I think of these blessings, I want to fall to my knees and offer praises to our Heavenly Father for His never-ending love for all of His children.

I don’t believe God wants His children to be fearful or dwell on the evils of the world. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

He has given us an abundance of reasons to rejoice. We just need to find and to recognize them. The Lord often reminds us to “be not afraid,” to “be of good cheer,” and to “fear not, little flock.”[i]

Stay active, involved, connected, and available. We don’t need to be paralyzed by inaction and fear.

You can donate to the official GoFundMe page for the Las Vegas shooting victims here:

You can also donate blood in Southern Nevada

 or at any Red Cross Blood Drive