limited human perspective, Gene's death was profoundly
premature and untimely. Gene was a vibrant human
being with unlimited value both to those who loved him
and to the scientific community, to which he brought a
unique combination of knowledge, interests and talents
as a science writer, spokesperson, activist, defender
of truth, and enthusiast for new energy technology.
Just as we would mourn the death of a child, whose
greatest potential had not yet been realized, we mourn
the death of Gene, whose potential additional
contributions will never be known, and who was just
beginning to enjoy the hard-won fruits of his labor.
We feel sad for his family, who has lost a wonderful
husband, father and grandfather. We are reminded
of the conversations we shared with Gene, his
writings, his reasoning, and his voice. We
remember his presence and feel his absence.
But we are struck not just by Gene's unexpected
passing. We are vicariously traumatized by the
horror that Gene faced as he was brutally beaten and
must have fought desperately for his life. Gene
experienced a living nightmare. Have any of us
escaped thinking about or imaging this? I
personally have had at least one nightmare that I
awoke from, feeling trapped and imperiled. I
have been more vigilant, locking the doors of my
house, concerned for my family's safety. Not
that I believe we are targets. But the world
feels a bit less safe than before Gene was murdered.
As a psychologist, I see that when something traumatic
happens, something outside the range of normal human
experience such as this horrific and senseless event,
it is our human condition to try to understand why.
Why, damn it?!! Of course, there are no
satisfying answers. Not even if or when it is
determined who killed him, and "justice" is
served. The fact of Gene's murder will remain
incomprehensible to those who cared about him.
No explanation can set things right.
Trauma, by its very nature, disconnects us from
ourselves. It feels unreal -- we just can't
believe it. It causes us to vacillate back and
forth between feeling numb, and feeling anguished.
We are literally split over it between
hemispheres...cover the left eye fully with one hand,
and say to yourself "Gene was murdered", and
notice what's there; then, cover the right eye, and
say "Gene was murdered", and just notice.
You might find a thought, or a feeling, or a body
sensation when looking through one eye, that changes
when looking through the other eye. Often,
through one eye we notice that the words just affirm
what we know to be true, but through the other eye we
notice feelings of grief and anger, or rage. (One
therapeutic technique for overcoming the dissociation
caused by trauma is actually to do just this,
continuing to shift back and forth between eyes
identifying what's present until the two perspectives
are integrated into one consistent and emotionally
balanced experience. For those whose split
doesn't resolve on its own this way, some brief
assistance from a trauma specialist can help work it
through if desired.)
A consequence of lingering dissociation can be
emotional or physical drain, and getting
"triggered" or emotionally imbalanced when
confronted with reminders of Gene or his death.
There is, of course, a natural healing process that
takes place over time, as long as we give direct
attention to emotions that arise, as well as keeping
perspective on the matter. Considering that our
human tendency is to avoid painful feelings, we may
need to be nudged to face them. For example, I
know there's a painful emotion that wants to surface
when I notice an uncomfortable sensation in my chest,
and I ask myself ...is it anger? sadness? ...and push
myself to express it by screaming silently or crying.
It can be especially healing to express it with caring
others, such as a loved one, or in prayer.
Having finally sat myself down the other day and
guided myself to dump the feelings I was suppressing
at the time, I am reminded, even though I know more
feelings may surface, that they are likely to be less
and less intense, and that the grieving process
reaches an end much more quickly when not inhibiting
it. Like yanking a band-aid off quickly, versus
pulling it up slowly and experiencing a long series of
The remaining sadness I feel is balanced by a sense of
hope and anticipation of a silver lining. Some
wise person once said, "For every tragedy there
will be a miracle of equal magnitude as a blessing
that will follow." I don't know what it
will be, but I do know, considering how great a man
Gene was, that it will be tremendous.
Gene died living his passionate ideals to the last
day. He has to be content with that--there's nothing
to feel sorry for there, only a great deal to admire.
Irrespective of past differences of opinion, if Gene
were here now, Steve and I believe he would express
the utmost respect and appreciation to all of you, the
courageous men and women who have journeyed with him
these last 15 years. He would say that you are
the pillars of a new society built on a foundation of
caring for humanity. That the revolutionary
research you are conducting provides hope for each
human being to achieve free access to resources, and
with it, significantly more control over their (and
our) lives. He would urge us all to persevere in
our endeavors, and know that he will be celebrating
our accomplishments with us.