Today, parents and family in CT may be feeling like they just want to die too. It probably could be easier to just crawl up in the grave next to their child or loved one and give up due to horrifying and unconscionable grief and anguish. The unthinkable has happened. Many of us are asking: “What if this happened to my child or loved one?” “How can I help?” “Is this going to keep happening?” “What do I say to my own kids?” Or, even angered, some may be even outraged at the gun control laws in our country, and feel like screaming, “We need to ban assault rifles or all guns.” Some are already calling for action with ideas like calling for teachers or some representatives in each school to be trained and armed to respond to future incidents. The questions continue: "Have we really come to this?" "What has the world come to?" Seldom are we collectively so sickened that we are rendered horrified and seldom are we so outraged that we become so collectively vocal. Everyone is in tears in their own way. The depth of the tragedy is far reaching. It’s holiday time for most of us and Katie found herself watching one of the most beautiful groups of six and seven year-old dancers in their first recital. She was thinking not about them, but the children like them, who died, who would never dance again. She struggled with tears and then reminded herself that the children, who are here, deserve to laugh, smile, live and enjoy their lives. How do you find the words? Like many parents, Katie and her husband struggled about talking with their ten year-old daughter about what happened until all of her plays and performances were over. Katie, who happens to be a child therapist, spoke from her heart honestly, answering her daughter’s questions with her own sense of disbelief. She didn't give her any great words of wisdom; she just held her and told her that like her, she didn’t know why evil things happen. There are no answers. There were just more questions and that was what connected them during our conversation. They sat on equal ground in the not knowing why bad things happen. They bonded in our vulnerable place of disbelief and sadness. In Elizabeth’s house, three of our four boys heard the news via their smart phones and youngest was told by the three older boys just about the second he walked in the house from the bus. Her husband cried. She cried. The kids were thoroughly disgusted. Most of the kids then went off to carry on with their lives, but one of her kids became, on his own, quite outraged about guns and the entire incident. They listened. Elizabeth’s husband wrote an email to their local police to ask for tightened security and drills in the schools. Then they did something they all seldom do – shut the TVs off until Monday night. They figured their household didn’t need to hear the grim details being repeated over and over by each station on the news, but did turn the TV back on to hear President Obama on Sunday. Late Sunday night their youngest confessed he was a little scared to go to his own school tomorrow and they just hugged him and comforted him. This tragedy is about so much more than a child's reaction to grief - it's about all of us and what we teach our children about pain and distress. How do we help them keep that magic that we see when they are young? How do we model for them the value and importance of sharing honestly when you are upset or scared or angry? Today is that opportunity. Best Ever You calls upon all of us to bring our best to all situations. In this case the best we can be is not strong and not defended, but honest, vulnerable and connected to our children and each other in that tender loving place. Ask yourself - What do I as a parent feel? How am I grieving? What am I as an adult doing and saying to make sense of this horrific, unimaginable event? Children are emotional hoovers. They suck up like a vacuum cleaner the emotions being expressed around them. Our children need us to look in the mirror first. We need to ask ourselves what we are afraid of. What anger am I expressing? Do I feel scared? Bonding with our children can only happen if we take time to honestly feel our feelings first, otherwise we project them onto our kids. Yes, children grieve differently than adults, but they take their cues from us. We have a teachable moment here when we can show our children our vulnerability and how we can find honest ways of expressing pain. We are all hurt and confused and scared at times and this is one of those moments to let our children know that's ok. Yes, we need to let them know we are there and they are safe and we also need to be honest about times when we feel helpless and powerless and how we cope. It’s in that place of vulnerability where we can connect best with our children, becoming more like them. We don’t know how the parents and family members of the victims are finding comfort. Today the parents of these young angels are planning or holding funerals instead of wrapping gifts, planning out the holidays and imagining their little voices on Christmas as they open up the perfect gifts that they’ve purchased in anticipation of hearing their happiness and giggles. The shootings in Newtown, CT have brought us around the globe to our knees, perhaps looking up into the heavens above and asking why? Many of us have taken to writing to cope and help others cope. Elizabeth couldn’t even bring herself to the computer to write until late Monday, when she finally became not so at a loss for words. Throughout the weekend she wrote down a series of words on a notepad. In reading the list, which is three pages long, it contains words like “senseless”, “angels”, and “why”. As a mom of four boys, over the past few days, she and her husband have uttered things to each other like: How can we help the people in CT? How do we protect this from happening in our own community? Are children and people safe at school, malls, places of worship and other public places? Are we really living in a country where we aren’t safe in public places? How are our children going to live this way? How are we going to live this way? Is it the guns or the people or some combination of both gone awry? Does the 2nd Amendment need to be changed? What does the NRA do and have to do with all of this? And then after all questions are asked, we are both frustrated, sad, shocked, horrified, outraged and more, we hug each other and hug our children and pray for those in CT and other states where this has happened. We hope and pray for change. What are you feeling? What does your heart say? Your heart may be wrenching right now and you might have to wait some time to hear what it says. It seems too difficult to think to “find the light in the darkest of circumstances." We heard someone on TV say this. Katie and Elizabeth say it often on Best Ever You. Are things, when a child dies, just permanently etched in darkness? How does a first responder not forever see horrible unthinkable sights? How do we move or stay in productive helping instead of furious outrage? How do we believe in God when something so unexplainable and evil happens? Katie has spent years with parents who have lost beautiful children to death from disease and tragedy. She has cried with them and held their hand as they walked through hell. There are no words that can comfort them, but being present and expressing compassion consistently. Allowing them to share the story of their child's life can at least help them get through one more minute of their day. Compassion, caring and support in memory of these precious human beings is what we can do. We can take our sadness, anger, outrage disbelief and whatever other emotions are stirring direct them towards positive change. We, coming together to honor the short lives of these children and their teachers can make their short lives count through action. The light for us right now is to help. Help from your heart in whatever way you see fit. How you can help: Visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/connecticut-elementary-school-shooting-how-to-help_n_2302760.html
ABOUT ELIZABETH & DR. KATIE
Hay House author, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is the CEO and Founder of The Best Ever You Network and co-host of top-rated program The Best Ever You Show, on Blog Talk Radio. Elizabeth, a mom of four boys, has a degree in Mass Communications and Broadcasting, is a Certified Professional Life Coach and is a food allergy expert and survivor. The Best Ever You Network (www.besteveryou.com) is a leading multi-media provider of lifestyle content to help you be your best.
Dr. Katie Eastman has over 20 years of inpatient, outpatient and mental health counseling experience with a variety of populations and a concentration in pediatric and health care issues. She has a strong passion for those committed and dedicated to making improvements and changes in the midst of life’s daily challenges, including the impact of serious illness. Based on the principles of Self psychology , Katie embraces a strengths based approach and empowers people of all ages, with practical, incremental, and attainable strategies to help them thrive.