These have been terrible, bleak days for many, many people.
Like all of you, I’ve spent the weekend trying to make sense of senselessness. Our fellow Americans are hurting, once again, in the wake of horrific violence. Last Wednesday, a young man went to a mall in Portland, Oregon, and shot two people to death before he killed himself. On Thursday, a man walked into a federal courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama, and shot himself to death. And on Friday, another young man forced his way into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 20 children aged 6-7, and 6 school staffers, including the principal, the psychologist, and 4 teachers. He then shot himself to death in a classroom. Later, it was revealed that he had also shot his mother to death at the home where they both lived.
For these events, I simply do not have the words to express what I know many of us are feeling. I can’t possibly begin to understand the level of grief that friends and families of those who died are experiencing and will continue to experience in the coming days. I have no answers, and can only offer what comfort I can, and try to help the various funds that have been set up.
Here’s HuffPo’s how to help link. And here’s another, through the Newtown Patch.
This is the Newtown Memorial Fund, to help cover the costs of funerals and, long-term, to help cover costs for a memorial. Newtown Youth and Family Services is available for emergency counseling, as well as to offer support services to local families. You can donate to them, as well. And here’s the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, through the United Way of western Connecticut.
But you can help in other ways, too.
Take care of each other. Tell your friends and family you love them. Be vigilant about the people around you, and if you think they’re having some kind of emotional or psychological issue, try to get help for them. Offer support to the families of those who deal with someone who is having those kinds of issues. Talk to each other. Build community and support it. Look out for each other. Participate. Endure. Love.
Peace and comfort to all of those affected by these awful events, and let us honor those who were torn from this life so violently by working together to prevent such from happening again.
We are all we have. Change starts with each of us.
I’m glad you mentioned getting help for people who display psychological trouble. It’s easy to label such people as “monsters,” but that makes it too easy to miss danger signs. In real life, monsters always start out looking like you or me.
Hi, Eric. Glad to “see” you.
Did you read this piece today? It’s making the rounds, picked up by HuffPo, WashPo, Gawker, and others. Liza Long blogs at anarchistsoccermom and here, she talks about the struggles she’s had with her son, who is clearly dealing with some kind of emotional/psychological issue. At her blog, it’s called “Thinking the Unthinkable.” It’s pretty potent, and demonstrates that we need a better system in place to help people like her son, and also to provide support for their caregivers:
Wow, that’s an intense article. It also brings up the issue of stigmatizing mental illness. Going beyond talk of the dangerous few who are at risk of snapping, what about ordinary people who have “routine” mental health problems like bipolar disorder or depression. Many of them avoid seeking help for fear of being labeled.
That’s what I thought, too. If you read through some of the over 2000 comments posted on that blog, there are numerous families going through what she’s going through. One of the commenters has an adult sibling who sounds a lot like an adult version of Michael, and the commenter noted that he refuses to seek treatment, claims nothing’s wrong with him and he doesn’t like being labeled. So there’s still an intense stigma associated with some forms of emotional and psychological conditions, and sadly, I think we need to really start addressing that, as well. Because these are lifelong/chronic conditions that these people and their friends and family need to learn to better manage, and they need much better support systems in place than what we have now to help with that.