There are 20 children in Newtown CT tonight who will never be coming home again.
Their parents will never tuck them in again or hug their warm bodies. They will never see them unwrap another Christmas present or celebrate another birthday
There are six adults in that same town tonight who are never coming home. Their spouses will never feel their touch again; their children will never hear their voices.
I cannot tell you what those parents are feeling tonight. And for all that I know exactly what those spouses are feeling, I cannot explain to those who have not lost a husband or a wife what that feels like. In the full experience of my life, there is nothing to compare it to that even comes close.
I know what the adults in that school feel tonight. I have lost students in senseless accidents and from hideous diseases. But I cannot explain it to those of you who have not experienced that horror.
And I have some small idea how hard the days ahead will be for those surviving teachers as they put their own hurt aside to help those 650 surviving students try to come to terms with what has happened to their friends in a place they thought was safe—maybe for some even safer than home.
We can debate gun control and the causes of violence. We can discuss the motivation and psychology of the shooter.
But not tonight.
Not this weekend.
Maybe not even next week.
The coming days need to be sacred to the grief of the families—to the brothers and sisters, to the mothers and fathers, to the parents and grandparents, to every member of that school community seared to the bone by this aching moment that has changed the trajectory of each of their lives forever. We need to focus on helping them through their grief and their pain and their anger.
The only other thing we should be doing right now is hugging our kids a little longer, hugging our spouses in that deep embrace only couples know, and showing our friends just how much they matter to us.
This is a night to remember our shared humanity—to hug even the strangers we meet in the street—to treat everyone with just a tiny bit extra kindness, because we do not know the burdens they may be carrying.
Tonight there is an entire community carrying the heaviest possible burden. They need our love and support as they face the tsunami of their grief.
© 2012 by Harry Proudfoot, Walking with Jane
- Talking to Children after a Public Tragedy from Hospice Foundation of America
- How to Help Children Cope with a Crisis from Save the Children
- What Can I Do? What Can I Say? by Susan Whitmore
- Performance Artist Uses Ritual to Move Collective Grief by Juniper Quin
- Self Care, As America Mourns the Sandy Hook Shootings by Gloria Horsley
- How to Talk to the Children and Teens in Your Life about the Newtown, CT Tragedy by Alan D. Wolfelt
- No Words for Such a Tragedy by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
- Links to Assist in Dealing with Traumatic Loss from Cheryl Eckl via Brad Lindell of the National Center for Crisis Management
- Delivering News of a Violent Death to Children: The Helping Professional as Educator/Coach by Robert Zucker
- Kids' Grief Relief: Finding Relief in Love by Barbara Ann Simone
- Five Ways to Help Grieving Families after a Child Dies from The Compassionate Friends
- Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting from American Psychological Association (APA)
- How to Discuss Violence in Schools with Children from Public School Review
- School Safety & Crisis Information for Parents and Educators from National Association of School Psychologists
- Kids And the School Shootings: 7 Tips Left Out of EVERY Article I've Seen by Fresh Widow
- Moving through Tragedy by Alisha Krukowski
- When Disaster Strikes: How Grandparents Can Help Their Families Cope by Susan Stiffelman
- Stick Up for Hopefulness, Especially During Grief by Judy Brizendine
- Where Were You, God? A Prayer for Newtown by Rev. James Martin, SJ
- The Power of Good by Christine Thiele
- Light a Candle Online from Grief Healing
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