Sunday, December 16, 2012

Voices: The Tragedy in Newtown, CT

Harry Proudfoot lost his wife Jane to neuroendocrine tumor cancer (NET) in December, 2010. In the wake of that devastating loss, he decided the most effective way he could move through his grief was to go after with a vengeance the disease that killed his beloved. The result is his foundation, Walking with Jane, which you can read about here. Upon learning of the tragic shooting that took place in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012, he wrote the following piece, reprinted here with his permission.

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

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  1. A sensitive, compassionate, and heartfelt article.

    Harry, your words deeply touch the hearts of all who have lost and know the truth of what you've written. And I don't see how your words can fail to touch those who haven't yet experienced these losses firsthand, too.

    Thank you for so eloquently saying what we all need to hear.

    Judy Brizendine

  2. Harry, you have a way of putting things into words for all of us, thank you!

  3. A subtle emphasis on gratitude that rings true for us all.

    With the media exploiting the heinousness of this terrible tragedy, it's easy to lose focus on the heart of the matter - the loss felt by these families in anguish. The hearts of america are stretched out with empathetic condolences to those affected by this event and I think your article summarizes the feelings of everyone who wishes they could have a tangible effect on the grief felt by these victims.

    Thank you for your well-written tribute.


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