We’re all devastated by what happened yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. There’s so much sadness in the loss of a child and we, as a nation, lost 20 of them all at once. When someone kills the innocent we all feel the sense of injustice. Many of us with children are mourning along with the parents who suffered loss as we realize how easily we could have been in their shoes. The 6 adults who died had dedicated their lives to teaching others. Yesterday they literally gave their lives. These teachers are heroes.
The loss is horrific. But what can we do? I have no long term answers, but I have a few suggestions on what to do right now, the day after.
1. Mourn for those who died, even if you didn’t know them. We all lost something yesterday.
2. Pray for the families and community. The holidays will never be the same for them. Also, remember to pray for them during the next year when other holidays come around and these families have to deal with remembering their losses.
3. Remember that life is fragile. There is no guarantee that we or our loved ones will be here tomorrow.
4. Stop focusing on getting ahead in your life or career and put more time into simply spending time with the people who are most important to you. Remember that people and relationships are the most important things in this world.
5. Refrain from immediately using this incident as an opportunity to promote your political views either for or against gun control. The day after the event is a time to mourn, not a time to show which position is right or wrong. Your opinions won’t change what happened yesterday and there will be plenty of time for you to express them later.
6. Help someone else. Find a way to make the world a better place by giving your time or making a donation to a cause - or both. There are so many needs in the world and while you can’t restore these children to their parents, you can make a difference in the world that eases someone else’s pain or brings them joy. It's never a bad time to help a good cause.
7. Never stop being empathetic and don’t be afraid to cry. It’s what makes us human.
Note: If you have children who are having trouble dealing with this incident and need assistance in figuring out how to help them, try reading though these tips from the American Psychological Association.