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Dealing with loss: voices on the tragedy in Connecticut

The tragedy of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut has shaken all of us. As hospice caregivers, we have been given the blessing of forewarning of the end of life; the families of those who died in Newtown had no such warning. Their shock is followed by profound grief. Grief Healing, a blog for professional and lay caregivers, posted the following written by Harry Proudfoot, who knows grief first hand.

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.

By Harry Proudfoot © 2012, walkingwithjane@gmail.com Website:www.WalkingWithJane.org

For today’s post, we thank our friends at GRIEFHEALING  and www.WalkingWithJane.org.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dana #

    I agree. That’s really all I can say. I nod my head in agreement and pray for the families feeling this tremendous loss.

    December 17, 2012
    • Yes, Dana- many of us are speechless and at a loss for words during tragic times. And we, too, pray for the families, friends, and communities affected by these recent events. This is an important time for the people in our communities to come together and support each other. Hospices across the nation are available to support community members, churches, and schools at times such as this. Bereavement services and support often extend beyond the family members of those they directly served. I urge anyone in need of additional support to reach out to your local hospice to see how they can provide assistance and counsel. Thank you for your reply and thank you for following Caring with Confidence.

      December 17, 2012

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