Over the weekend we had one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had with my children. Motivated by the horrific crime in Connecticut yes, but also the shooting at our local mall in Portland last week, and the recent lockdown at three of our local schools because of a boy who brought a gun to school. Three gun related incidences in a short amount of time urged my husband and I to have a larger conversation with our daughters who are attending school.
I will not attempt to instruct on gun laws, mental illness, or weigh in on whether or not we should employ gun toting teachers in our public schools (a real NPR interview I heard yesterday), but only to write today about the value of mourning. I was saddened on Friday and through the weekend by those who seemed to take the tragedy as an opportunity to vocalize their point of view on guns and violence. There was a lack of pause, a void of mourning. Instead I read too many posts about how to ‘fix’ the problem, correct the downward spiral, and make things right in America. I asked my husband more than once, “Why are people weighing in with opinion, instead of their hearts?” I realized then that maybe we have lost the discipline and value of mourning culturally. We move on too quickly in order to protect and preserve our own rights and our individual interests; as if stopping to feel deeply leads to ‘losing out.’
My children sat on the couch and listened as we talked about the value of life, the tragedy of little ones losing out on a life ahead, and brave teachers who lost their lives trying to protect them. We talked about what to do if you are in a public place and see a gun, if you are at someone’s house and see a gun, and of course what to do if you see or hear a gun at school. These are unfortunate, necessary discussions about evil in the world today. I cried. They understood. And today I am still not ready to listen to arguments for or against this or that. Yes, there must be change but it must be change that has come from mourning. Grief must be borne in order to see clearly. Crossing into and through grief gives insight and consideration to the issue at hand. It brings clarity on how to move ahead. I pray that we as a nation would not be so concerned with our ‘rights’ or opinions that we skip past this all-important time. Let us mourn in order to bring healing and precious clarity to the issues at hand.
Many are writing letters of support to the parents and school officials of Newtown. You can send yours here:
Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Newtown, CT 06482
Here are a few other ways to offer help and support to the Newtown community.