Wrapped up in grief, it’s hard to even make sense of the school shootings in Parkland Florida.  The traumatic events are almost too painful to observe in the media…over and over again.  I find I am surrounded by conversations filled with outrage, sadness, loss, disbelief and most pointedly anger.  We suffer with each parent, teacher, student and community member as we imagine surviving such an event and what it might feel like to suffer loss of this magnitude.  It was the fabric of the Parkland community that made life feel normal and safe.  Everyone contributed to that fabric through work, social interactions and worship in their manner – when we help a neighbor by shoveling their sidewalk, attend school events to support our children, stop fully at the red light because others count on it, etc.  So when events occur that tear a great hole in the fabric, something no one expected, the community fabric can become frayed and unravel.  The fabric must be restored to help those surviving carry-on and reestablish how to be and feel safe.  These are complex social issues with no easy solutions.  What is important to remember is that the feelings I’ve listed above are normal reactions to traumatic events and part of the grieving process. You may find that you are experiencing sadness, anger and emptiness as you share in the grief of a nation.

Individually and collectively, we will move through the stages of grief:

  • Denial / Shock – “This can’t be happening…”
  • Anger – “Why is this happening?  Who is to blame?  What should have been done differently…”
  • Bargaining – “Make this not happen, and in return I will …”
  • Depression – “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance – “I’m able to exist with what happened.”

[Kubler-Ross http://www.journey-through-grief.com/kubler-ross-stages-of-grief.html ]

We won’t move through the stages one at a time, but will swing back and forth between them for the duration of our journey in grief.  These feelings are normal and necessary for each us to find our way; keeping in mind that each person will experience grief, and react to it, in different ways.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve a loss

While the publicized reaction has been predominately anger, specifically searching for ‘why’, we must be cautious not to land too quickly on a reason.  These events can be very complex regarding ‘why’ and are generally not linear nor solved by one action (e.g. mental illness, gun control, etc.)  More so, what actions could have prevented this occurrence may not stop the next.  Our thinking about this will require many stakeholders evaluating the situation from all angles.   We are outraged that no one could have predicted such atrocities.  And we are profoundly distressed that our children lost their lives, their classmates and teachers, their sense of safety in their environment, and their innocence.  These are certainly normal reactions to such a publically traumatic event.  Please join me in a 17 minute moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives and further strengthen the community fabric that was torn asunder.

Ellen Harrison
Executive Director