These are reflections in the wake of the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history yesterday (12/14/12) in Newtown, Connecticut. At this writing, 20 children ages 5-10 and six adults are dead. The shooter also apparently killed himself, bringing the toll to seven adults.
It is obscene to presume that words of any kind can assuage the pain inflicted yesterday in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
It seems equally obscene to be silent.
President Obama expressed much of what comes from any parent's heart at a time like this. We are compelled to stop, hug our loved ones, give thanks for our blessings, and pray mightily for those drowning in the swirling maelstrom of tragedy. There is no more critical time for the power of connection to exert itself as we reach out to others in need, acknowledge their pain and brokenness, and just be by their side. We can't fix it. We can only be present.
Taking action can be cathartic
For those itching to take action, I've found a few resources (thanks to the Huffington Post and Brené Brown's blog) that seem to provide meaningful and legitimate ways to help and some excellent resources for talking to children after these kinds of horrific events:
Newtown Youth and Family Services
Newtown Youth & Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit mental health clinic, will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for emergency counseling for families, community members or staff involved in the Sandy Hook
Elementary school tragedy. All donations made to the organization will benefit those affected. Find out how you can help here.
Newtown Parent Connection
The Newtown Parent Connection, a nonprofit that addresses issues of substance abuse, also offers bereavement group counseling on the first Wednesday of every month. The organization told The Huffington Post that it’s going to try to bring in additional counselors to accommodate the needs of those affected by the Sandy Hook shooting. Find out how you can help here.
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross of Connecticut immediately responded to the shooting scene and provided more than 50 units of blood platelets and plasma to the Danbury Hospital, where some of the victims were transported, spokesperson Melanie Pipkin told the Huffington Post. The aid organization has also distributed food and water to first responders and is setting up a family reception center that will provide initial grief counseling. The aid organization is not seeking blood donations at this time and doesn't anticipate any additional need. Learn about how you can help here.
University of Minnesota on Talking to Kids About Violence Against Kids
National Association of School Psychologists on Talking to Children About Violence
“How to Talk To Children About Death” (Child Development Institute)
Explaining the news to our kids from Common Sense Media.
And this wonderful advice from the late Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers):
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.“
Along with many of you, I will be in prayer and genuine mourning for those victims, their loved ones, and all those who will be involved in helping or serving them in the days ahead.