America is again riveted and shaken by the senseless deaths of loved ones in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut massacre. Young children and adults murdered in the prime of their lives.
It is especially unnerving as those who were shot and those who died were doing an activity with which we can all identify, attending school. The press coverage is extensive, as people want to know every detail.
What is this fascination? Is it just curiosity? I think not. I believe we are riveted by our own mortality and vulnerability. We look for a sign or a signal that could have shown that one person was capable of such a senseless act. We watch and read about the details of the event hoping that we will find a place to lay the blame with the unconscious goal of decreasing our loved ones and our risks. We move from personal and local to a national platform discussing possibilities of mental illness, gun control, and bulling.
Loss of this magnitude brings us together as a community and we mourn together as nation. However, as with politics in the end all loss is personal. As a bereaved mother I can tell you that the families directly affected are in total shock and will be for weeks.
There are many resources and disaster teams that have come into play so for the moment they are being supported and held in the hand of God. So what can we do to take care of our families, our community, and ourselves? Depending on your proximity to this event and personal experience you will have your own unique reaction. Many people are asking how can they themselves cope. I have a few ideas that I hope will be helpful.
• Be aware that this event may bring up intense feelings regarding past losses. I think of my son, Scott's death with every Newtown news report.
• Know that during the first year or two after a loss you are highly vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
• Consider taking a newsbreak. Listen to some good music or go to a movie. With the Internet breaking news is available whenever you are ready.
• Remember that how you express your grief will impact how your children will respond to this event so be reactive but don't overreact. If you do explain to family that the event has brought back past losses. This might be a time to explore where your are in the healing process.
• If need be talk to someone outside of the family about your feelings. Confiding in a friend, minister or professional counselor can sometimes make a huge difference.
• Take care of yourself so that you will be available to others. Remember as they say on the airplane put on your own oxygen mask before you put it on others.
If you are concerned about your kids going back to school below are a few ideas:
• Talk about the plans for the school day.
• Set out your child's clothes the night before.
• Talk to them about what they would like for lunch and add a special treat.
• Remind them about events where they have overcome adversity. Build on successes and courageous times.
• Reassure them that there are thousands of schools in the United States and millions of students who attend classes safely on a daily basis
Again take care of yourself and with us your thoughts and comments as we mourn together.