Blessed Are The Children

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There but for the grace of God go I.

I’ve breathed that saying over and over since the Newtown tragedy on Friday – in a town only a few miles from us. When I was a child my mother said it in an attempt to explain the unexplainable: how it seems at times that only the slimmest parcels of grace spare us from the tragedy visited upon others. I never understood this phrase more than now.

Like you, I sent my children, one a first grader, to school this morning with a tender hug and a heavy heart. I don’t have much wisdom to offer but will share three sources of comfort I found yesterday.

First, in church, our young, recently ordained Deacon delivered a comforting sermon that gave me the first glimpse of how a person could possibly go on after losing a a child or parent. She talked of the deep holes left within us when we lose someone and that these holes can serve as vessels to hold our love, our memories, and the outreach we receive from others. And in this way, they can become shrines to the person we lost. Instead of wishing such deep holes away, we hold them dear as testaments to the wonder of the person we continue to love – even after they have left us.

Next, during a hair appointment I sat next to a first grade teacher from a neighboring town. As she spoke about how courageously the Newtown teachers acted and how they “did everything right,” I was awed again by the daily care our teachers give our precious children. When she talked about her class and how wonderful her students are, I was reminded of all the first graders we will celebrate in honor of the students we lost.

Third, last evening I listened to President Obama’s comments at the prayer vigil in Newtown. His firm, compassionate leadership was, I hope, great comfort to the families in Newtown. I was comforted by his ability to articulate our grief, bewilderment and hunger for a society where our children aren’t at risk. No, we can’t spare humanity from evil. But our comfort and prayers for each other have the power to outshine that evil day by day.

Healing Yourself

If you are continuing to struggle with this tragedy in your thoughts, I suggest you talk to friends, pray, speak to clergy or a therapist, and find healing activities. These include writing prayers and poems, finding local drives for the victims’ families, collecting toys and clothing for needy children in your area and finding other means of outreach to help those suffering – especially during the holidays.

Helping Children

My pediatrician’s office sent the following links with helpful information on how to talk to children.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

National Center for Crisis and Bereavement

Helping Children Cope After a School Shooting

For our part, Husband and I have kept it solemn and simple. No details. Lots of reassurances. We don’t know what information will come to their ears during school this week. The truth is, parents will face tough questions from our children. Questions to which we don’t have great answers. Be thankful for questions and your loving ability to answer them as best you can.

There but for the grace of God go I.

I wish you all peace during the holidays and in your hearts and pray each day for all of the families and friends in Newtown, CT.

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