"In all these tragedies, there are far more helpers than there are bad guys. You are one. Do what you do to heal your tiny corner of the world. You are helping." -Katie Read, MFT
Author: Katie Read, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
When I turned on the news, a long-nailed claw ripped into my
chest, yanked out my heart, and left me on the couch like a big gaping wound. My young son was oblivious, thank god, but I realized
a new strain of parenthood: watch news this devastating, but still turn to my
son and force a smile, find my encouraging sing-song voice and keep going with
his new baby picture cards: ball, teddy
bear, school, hug.
And we say the same words, right? We all talk about holding our children a
little bit tighter. My husband’s boss went
out to buy the kids every damn thing on
their Christmas lists.
Because worst of all, worst of all, we are all imagining
ourselves in the situation. Our grieving
has so much to do with our brains spinning the unthinkable, putting ourselves
in their shoes again and again, then yanking us right back out because it’s too
much. The mere idea annihilates us.
And so we
hug our children tighter, but here’s the reality: they are still our children.
We take a longer moment today in gratitude for them, but they will still fight
with their siblings and throw their food against the wall and tantrum at
bedtime. I was reading articles about
the tragedy this morning, so grateful for my perfect little boy asleep in the
next room…and then he started crying two hours before his normal wake-up time
and my whole body tensed and I thought no
no no please go back to sleep please go back to sleep. Because I’m human and I’m selfish and
most of us, we’ll spend a few days watching the horror, venting on Facebook
about gun control and mental health services, and then we will go have
Christmas. Maybe a hero will rise from
the tragedy, and finally change some of the policies in this country. Maybe quiet heroes will rise and help families
through the horror. But this will not be
over for many years. There will be divorces.
There may be suicides. There will
be siblings and survivors carrying scars into adulthood, running from bullets
in their sleep, or trying to fill the space of a missing 5-year-old so that Mom
will just stop crying for one minute, please, Mom, please.
And you and
I, far away, probably can’t change that.
So what can we do? The calls will
be to get political, which is vital and important and wonderful and is not something
we were all born for. I know that politics is not my strength. I cry too easily. I look terrible in business suits. So instead I have to look inward.
that if I try to be less selfish today, I am helping. People deserve generosity.
that if I make a genuine effort to put other’s needs first today, and to be
kind to all I encounter, I am helping. People
deserve gentleness and care.
that if I reach out to someone I suspect may be struggling, instead of just figuring
they’ll ask for help if they need it, I am helping. People deserve to be seen and noticed.
that letting ourselves feel whatever we are feeling: devastated, scared,
frozen, nonchlant, dismissive—letting ourselves feel it, name it, but not
judge it, is helping. People deserve to
have their unique experiences.
believe that if I pray, I am helping. To
be honest, I try to include this tragedy, and all the others like it, into my
understanding of God for one reason: no one ever said, yeah, I finally stopped believing in God and my life got so much
better! I’m filled with such joy and
bliss every day now that I finally stopped believing! No one said it, and no one felt it. Doubts and all, I believe in energy and I
believe we’re connected by it and I believe that a few focused moments sent in
earnest desire that someone else might feel comfort is helping. I don’t know how, but I have seen it and I
Do your best today. Listen to that inner nudge towards
goodness. Act on it. You are helping.
In all these tragedies, there are
far more helpers than there are bad guys.
You are one.
what you do to heal your tiny corner of the world. You are helping.
Katie Read, MFT has a private practice in Roseville, CA, but is available via Skype to all CA residents. Learn more about her at www.katiereadtherapy.com, or her blog atwww.greatlaughinglove.com.
Labels: Healing from Tragedy, Katie Read, Kindness, Sandy Hook