Sunday, December 23, 2012

Remembering Newtown

Tears weld up in my eyes every time I hear or read about the Newtown massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at the school there. How could this have happened? How could the 20-year-old’s mother not have known how sick her son was? And the parents: what they must be going through, having to bury their 6 or 7 year old child? So many questions and situations, but not many answers. We will never know the real story behind what occurred, but we all understand its aftermath, because we have all lost children also and know how these parents feel.

They are in shock; they can’t believe what has happened so suddenly and so tragically. It will take a long time before they can accept that their child is even gone. I know it was a long time for me…almost three years before I one day caught my breath and realized I would never see my daughter again. That was when the tears flowed their hardest. (Like one mother said… it is like a tsunami: if you flow with it, you will survive, but, if you let it overtake you in its path, you won’t survive.)

A few suggestions for these parents, yourself or any others who have recently lost a child in any situation:

1. Journal your thoughts and feelings where you are now up to a year from now (the hardest time for you to remember later on when you are able look back). You will be surprised to learn what you were thinking and feeling then as compared to now. I wrote my feelings down in my first book 11 years ago and am stunned now to reread it and understand how much I would have forgotten if it had not been written down.

2. Every time you think of a good memory of your child, write it down. Keep thinking of these memories and continue writing them. When you are not in good shape or feel like it, look at some of these memories to help you smile through your tears, and perhaps even laugh.

3. Don’t worry that you’ll forget your child. You won’t. They lived and made wonderful memories for you that you can keep in your heart forever.

4. Let others help you who have been in the same situation, whether it is a friend, family member, priest, rabbi or a local or national support group. Not only will it be comforting to tell your story, but you know they will understand what you are going through and can perhaps have some suggestions for you.

5. Keep talking about your child to keep his/her memory alive. Doing activities, giving donations, building memorials also helps.

6. Cry whenever you feel like it. You are not going crazy and crying is a cleansing emotion that allows you to feel better.

And let us not forget the staff members who also lost their lives at that school. We have not forgotten you and your bravery in saving many children that day.

Remembering Forever: Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Olivia Engel, 6; Josephine Gay, 7; Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6; Dylan Hockley, 6; Madeleine F. Hsu, 6; Catherine V. Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Jesse Lewis, 6; James Mattioli, 6; Grace McDonnell, 7; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison N. Wyatt, 6; ADULTS: Rachel Davino, 29; Dawn Hochsprung, 47; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Lauren Rousseau, 30; Mary Sherlach, 56; Victoria Soto, 27.

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