How to Handle Tragedy from Beyond the Periphery


Photo Courtesy: The Inquisitr

The Newtown , CT massacre affects us all. I first heard about this devastating elementary school shooting soon after it happened through a text message from a relative in Italy. Rarely does local news make European headlines unless the news is massive. I was in a training at work, where of course, there was no radio on; no TV. As soon as I finished,  walking back to my office, I noticed how the entire hospital –staff and patients alike, were abuzz—not so much in a curious state, as in solemn state of mourning.

Research shows that all of God’s creatures—humans as well as animals—mourn when they lose one of their own. It doesn’t  have to be a relative, friend, or even someone you know, to feel empathy and the heaviness of loss vicariously. Wherever I went yesterday, hearts were heavy, and emotions were that of horror, as well as sadness.

No one can imagine what it must feel like to have been directly impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting first-hand. The parents and families of the children and adults who were shot;  the surviving children who witnessed the shootings, and of the police and ambulance workers who were involved—will no doubt face a long and arduous journey of healing.

So what can we—those who stand in the periphery and beyond the physical boundaries of Newtown—do to help those most deeply affected, and to help ourselves get through the devastation  that we feel in our solidarity with the people of Newtown?

Focus on  inner peace  in order to stay strong and be able reach outward and help in ways that make sense:

Go inward for Inner peace. Don’t  neglect your own self-care in times of crisis. You will do the most good for those affected directly if you keep yourself centered and strong.   Some ideas are : Lighting a candle at your house of worship,  10 minutes of daily meditation, reflection on the blessings of your own life, prayer for the Newtown victims and their family, and surrounding yourself with life-affirming beauty (a flower on your table,  your favorite family photo placed right where you can see it, seeking a support group or a professional to talk to if you need it.

Go outward for ways to help: In the coming days we will most likely hear of ways in which those outside of Newtown can help. As with the victims of Sandy, there may be donation funds set up, or physical help that might be needed. You might consider making a donation to a children’s charity in memory of the victims, or even volunteering for a legitimate charitable organization that needs your help– as a symbol of gratitude for the blessings in your own life.

In the coming days of our own holiday celebrations, let us take this time to remember how connected we really all are—through our earthly journey of both sorrow and joy.  In tragic moments that don’t make sense, let us become the pillars of strength that comforts others. And in moments of joy, let us remember to appreciate and share what we have been blessed with.

I pray that our friends in Newtown find comfort, peace, help, and healing in this most devastating time of crisis.


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