Talking about Sandy Hook

So what happened on Friday in Newton Connecticut is really, really heartbreaking.  I tried my typical approach of turning off all news to shield my heart from too much sorrow.  Unfortunately, everywhere I turn people are talking about Newton and the tragedy that happened there.  I stopped looking at Facebook because I thought I might have an anxiety attack on Friday evening.  But then I heard about the massacre at the local food store, from a friend, and again when I went to Church this morning.  Our pastor read the name of all 26 innocent victims during his homily.  I started to cry and had a hard time stopping.  My chest literally hurts for those families and that community.  None of us can imagine what they are experiencing.  In burying my infant daughter I know only a very small bit of the pain they must feel, and I honestly do not know how those families will keep going.

And selfishly, deep down, I feel something else that I hate.  I am afraid.  This isn’t the first time that a tragedy like this has happened in our nation.  In the very recent past, this sort of violence has erupted in various other locations — at the mall, the movie theatre, and outside of a local supermarket.  These incidents are not going away, it seems they are only increasing.

I’ve heard so many people talk about gun control or better treatment of mentally ill individuals as important preventive measures.  And I think there needs to be a serious discussion about the role our government should have in helping to keep us safe.  One mother wrote an excellent piece today about the need for better help for mentally ill children and adults entitled I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.  Please read it.  It is important.  There isn’t enough help out there for those suffering from mental illness.  This needs to change.

But beyond a national conversation about gun control or mental illness, what can be done?  One small thing that we can all do in our regular life is put down the devices and start paying attention to those around us.

When we go to the mall to do our Christmas shopping and we are standing in line waiting, there is a strong temptation to make good use of the time and read a blog or text a friend.  Don’t do it.  Instead, try talking to the person next to you in line.  Say a kind word to the cashier.  Talk to your neighbors.  Learn their names.  Get to know your extended family members better.  Work to create a world in which people are just a little less isolated from one another.  And then take the time to teach your kids to do the same.

We live in a very individualistic world.  Social media and smart phones allow us to live much of our life online.  We often go through large parts of the day without interacting with real people.  Such a society truly isolates those individuals who are hurting or struggling.  If we all spent a little less time on our devices and a little more time paying attention to the people we see in our community, the chances of someone noticing that young man who is on the verge of a mental breakdown only increase.

I know we are all very busy.  But if you are anything like me, you are rarely too busy to check your e-mail or send a text to a friend.  We are never really too busy to notice.  We just choose not to.

And so, I’m going to try to do this one small thing in memory of the 26 innocent people who died on Friday.  I’m going to try to notice.

Let nothing trouble you
Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes
God never changes
Patience
Obtains all
Whoever has God
Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.

~ St. Teresa of Avila

  • Katrina

    Thank you for writing on this, Kellie, I think that you’re right on.

  • Kellie “Red”

    Please pray for Msgr. Robert Weiss, who is the pastor of St. Rose church in Newtown, CT. He will be saying the funeral for 8 of the children killed.

    • Kathy

      Over the weekend, as Msgr. Weiss was interviewed, it caused my husband and I to think about our friend who is a priest. We remember him talking about homilitics training in the seminary and how part of it included writing, delivering (in a classroom setting ) and being critiqued (in order to help make the homily more effective) on “difficult homilies” especially for funerals. He had to prepare such homilies as in the death of children, murder victims and even for a murdered. He said that they were all very hard topics and death of children was very wrenching, but he said that the homily for a murderer or other hardened criminal was the most difficult of all. What do you say about someone in that category?

      I know that the Holy Spirit is with Msgr. Weiss, but I will continue to pray for him as he faces this difficult task. Also, pray for the funeral director in Newtown as he is overwhelmed at this time too.

      Our Lady, Queen of Peace and Mother to us all, Pray for us!

  • Kate L

    Kellie,

    Thanks for writing this, I actually live about 25 minutes from Newtown, our schools were on lockdown on Friday. When I picked my 7 year old son up on Friday, he knew something was wrong. Mommy why was the playground closed, why did my Spanish teacher say a boy died. These are questions I didn’t want to answer. I like you am angry, sad, confused. I want to ask someone the same questions Why…. We kept the TV off all weekend, and had alot of quiet Family time. I knew that today would be back to the questions. ” Why were some of the doors locked, why is their a police car in the school lot. I sat in church yesterday praying for strength. To be able to answer the questions. Our collegues will come to work today whose children made it out safely. There is no way to avoid it. I am going to stay off Facebook, but I am going to listen as people talk, because it may be a comfort to them just to talk, I may want to avoid it, but they need comfort.

    • Kathy

      To Kate and all from CT who were directly affected by the shooting. You are all in our prayers. May the Holy Spirit guide you with what to say and may Our Lady be with all of you and especially the grieving families at this horrific, difficult time.

    • Kellie “Red”

      Kate, I am praying for you, for your son, and for your community.

  • Mrs Gregory

    I think a big part of mental illness is the breakup of the traditional family. How many of these angry, isolated kids come from healthy two parent homes? When I read “I am Adam Lanza’s mother” my first question was, “Where is his father?” I was Adam’s age when my parents divorced and I know the anger it can cause. I even highly considered using my father’s gun to get revenge. And not a soul talked to me about the divorce. Having two parents, and specifically, a father, makes all the difference. And yet our society continues to push for nontraditional marriage. Who will lose? The children. Just like in this case. (This is not to say mental illness isn’t real–but I think the kid in this article’s anger comes partly from not having a father.)

    • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Katrina

      Mrs. G, in answer to your question, I clicked on the blog of the author of “I am Adam Lanza’s mother,” and there are clearly some tough family dynamics surrounding the father. They are divorced, he doesn’t want to pay his end of the child support, there is a custody battle, etc. These are not secrets, she writes very openly about them on her blog, and it sounds like there is a lot of anger there on her part. What a tough situation.

  • JMB

    As tragedies go, this is beyond words. My heart goes out to all the people in Newtown who are affected by this. I think this event may be the “Black Swan” event that changes everything. I agree Kellie that there needs to be a national conversation about guns, mental health, the role of government to protect the safety of its citizens. I don’t think schools will ever be the same. In my town alone there are two older school buidings, built in the 1920s that have offices far away from the central doors. I will be willing to bet at the next Board of Ed meeting parents will insist that the offices be moved to the front of the building. I’m used to seeing police officers at our schools in the am and pm due to traffic concerns, but I bet we are going to see more and more officers at schools now all day long.

  • Mary

    This incident is so horribly sad and tragic. I agree that too much information for the adults and children is harmful. I have been thinking and praying a lot about it though. We cannot put it out of our minds and hearts and just forget. I don’t think that’s what you are suggesting. I have also been thinking about teaching my kids empathy. Is it odd to think about such basics after such an event. I have to believe that if the shooter could understand the pain he would cause to so many that he couldn’t cause so much hurt. So I want to talk about it with my kids, my husband and others, but gently.

  • Jennifer

    Kellie, thank you so very much for these thoughts.

  • Amy B

    Thanks for this reflection. I have been trying to read the catechism in a year (thanks to Katrina’s suggestion), and I just happened to read this quote after this awful tradgety.
    CCC 324 “The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.”
    This is the only thing that makes sense in this situation! May we continue to share this Good News with our hurting world!

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