Last Friday, a senseless act of violence occurred in a small, sleepy town in Connecticut. Six adults and 20 innocent children were slain leaving us wondering about gun control, possible motives, and our safety in general. How do you make sense out of something that doesn’t make sense? How can you rationalize an irrational event?
Making sense out of a senseless act is a process. Forgiveness is a part of this process. Feeling all the feelings as uncomfortable as they might feel, is a process. Looking for the light in the midst of darkness is also part of the process. Getting loving support is part of the process. Getting professional help if you feel you need it, is again, part of the process.
Honestly, there is no sense in a senseless act. Try as you might, you can’t figure it out. For experiences like these, if you wish to move past it, you must find meaning from it. How will it help you in the long run? What can you learn from this? How can you help others through a tragedy? How can you make a difference? How can you immortalize a victim in a positive way?
And speaking of positivity, there is such an outpouring of support and love coming from all over the world–it is truly amazing and awe-inspiring! Prayers, well wishes, kind gestures, donations–these are such wonderful expressions and reminders that there is good in the world, that there is kindness, love, and a sense that this horrific act is not the norm–most people have kind and good hearts. The shooter was an exception. We haven’t lost the battle on evil–we will overcome it–we do every time!
For the victims’ families, they have a long road ahead. Grief is a process with no linear structure to rely on. One minute you might be in shock, then the next in bargaining mode and then maybe throw in some denial. It’s one step forward, maybe two steps back for awhile. Each day presents its own journey, its own struggle to remain present and not dwell on the past or future. Lost dreams, lost hopes, lost opportunities can wreak havoc on a family going through this, but it reminds us also that life is way too short to take it for granted. Each one of us has multiple opportunities to do good in the world each and every day. That’s quite a responsibility but the very fact that we are alive is a testament to our specialness. We are each and all miraculous beings, but some people have learned to contract from life instead of engaging with it. And we’re missing their gifts, their contributions to the world. Some people are so lost, and they may not act out violently, but the world is diminished just a little bit because they are not able to let their light shine in their own way.
We are blessed in so many ways, but we can get caught up in our stories–of what is wrong with us, with our partner, our parents, with our life, with our job…Instead of focusing on the disempowering aspects of life, it is so much more pleasant and life-enhancing to focus on what is good in our lives–for there is always something good. Even in the midst of tragedy (not to diminish its impact), there is always something good.
When I’ve experienced loss, I remember thinking that the world should stop–just for a little bit–so that I could take in the loss. Each person on this planet matters–they are valuable in their own way–and I think people need to hear that more often. People need to know they mean something to you; people need emotional “stroking”–sincere efforts at letting people know how much they mean to you–and what you love about them.
Too many people are lost, walking around in a turned around state, numb to their feelings and experiences as life whizzes by. Tragedies like this remind us that life is way too short to let life get ahold of us, stuck in disempowering stories. The days go by no matter what–what do you do proactively to make it good for yourself and for others? “Good” and “bad” exist (they are in quotes because it’s all subjective, but let’s just say that some things in life enhance it=good, some detract from it=bad), which do you choose to focus on? Choose is the operative word here–it is a choice; you have power over your thoughts.
My heart goes out to all the victims’ families and friends who lost someone at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Beautiful people, lives cut short because of a senseless act of violence. Even if the authorities come up with a motive–it can’t really penetrate the depth of horror this crime represents. Innocent children, his mother, teachers trying valiantly to save lives…Evil doesn’t make sense.
This holiday season, as we continue to go about our lives, see if you can counteract the negativity of this heinous act by doing something awesome. Tell more people in your life how much they mean to you, take up a hobby or activity you’ve been meaning to but keep putting off, spend more time with family, think about how you would like to spend the rest of your life, think about how you want to make a positive difference, think about your fears that are holding you back and just go squash them! Use this opportunity as a new moment to start living life like you’d been meaning to–with passion, with connection, with love, and intention! You are amazing, you matter, and you can make a positive difference in this world.