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Hurting Today In Wake of Newtown Shooting

Our hearts are aching today with the news of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Here are a few tips on how to cope with this tragedy.

The tragedy unfolding today in our neighboring state of Connecticut is sucking the breath out of me.  I don’t know anyone personally in Newtown, CT, but my eyes keep welling up with tears. My heart hurts. Badly. 

The news of this school massacre is truly horrific. At this point, we know very little and do well not to speculate about what is not yet known. What is confirmed is that 20 young precious children and seven or more adults have been murdered by gunshot in an elementary school setting. What should be a sacrosanct place was violated in the most extreme of ways.

Our hearts ache for the parents, siblings, grandparents, extended families and neighbors in this community. The news of the massacre is filling up the television stations, internet news feeds and newspaper copy. It’s a headline we wish we would never see.

But it is our gruesome reality today and we must start to grapple with the tragedy.

Figuring out how to stop this kind of gun violence is part of our task. There’s others.  But, for tonight, right now as the news unfolds, maybe it's best to focus on taking care of ourselves and our families emotionally. 

Everyone who hears about this killing spree would do well to get some psychological first aid. It’s good to realize this emotional need, even if the closest we are to the massacre is hearing/reading/seeing a report from one of our electronic screens. Kids included.

What I mean is this: news like this hits us hard emotionally, even if we are safe physically. News like this makes us feel vulnerable and wonder about our own safety. I immediately thought about my children, spouse, and other family members. I immediately thought about all the youngsters still in school at the nursery, elementary, and high schools that I live near. News like this can traumatize us. News like this does traumatize us. We can’t just shrug it off. 

Psychological first aid today might include:

  • Giving those you love a long and intense hug today when you next see them. Wrap your arms around yourself, if you don’t have a loved one or close neighbor nearby, and give yourself a hug. Take a deep breath and count your blessings.   
  • Protecting yourself and your children, especially your children, from being over exposed to news about this tragedy. We know from research that children who just watch news about violence, especially violence against other children, can be upset emotionally in significant ways. They don’t have to be present at the actual event to become traumatized.  You can keep your children from getting hurt in this way. This news has appropriately taken over the airways, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it create potential emotional harm to your children.  Best, in my professional opinion is this–don’t let young children watch news that includes violent images or descriptions at all.  Let them get whatever information they need of news like this from someone who knows them best and understands their needs best—you, their parent.  Be cautious with older children as well to avoid overexposure. Provide a safe and secure place physically and emotionally as well for your youngsters. Keep your usual routine for the weekend in place; it gives a needed sense of security. 
  • Reach out to others. Find a way to connect with someone else. Doing so is reassuring. We need reassurance on a day like today. Reaching out to others (and being reached out to) during a tragedy can be powerful and healing. Many are still reeling from the tragedy and troubles of another crisis—Hurricane Sandy. The pile-up factor can make us even more vulnerable, making it all the more important to consider psychological first aid.

We will know more soon. Further psychological first aid may be needed for some of us. School counselors and other counselors can be helpful for debriefing and crisis work. 

But for today, ground yourself, take good care emotionally of yourself and your children, and try to reach out and connect with others. I’m glad I have a potluck meal and event with other families planned for tonight. I’m sure there will be a lot more hugs than usual. And that’ll be a good thing. 

Pat Gharet December 16, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Apparently there is no amount of violence and heartbreak that could ever convince certain individuals that their access to assault weapons should be limited or monitored in any way. Just as there is no argument that could ever convince me that anyone has an actual need to possess such a weapon.
Ann Fanizzi December 16, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Some of the posts above demonstrate the truism memorialized in the song: You have to be carefully taught. The NRA has carefully taught its members who in the face of this unspeakable tragedy, continue to parrot the organization's line: its people who kill not guns.
Pat Gharet December 16, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Take away their guns, they'll use knives. Take away their knives they'll use poisonous snakes, or rocks or garrotes. Perhaps, but guns are just so damned efficient...
ingeborg oppenheimer December 16, 2012 at 05:36 PM
david, going over your comments, i found the following interesting: <<<While you parrot the shallow talking points of the Liberal Left that religions do more to "divide" society, you neglect to offer your alternative! What toys or trinkets do you come bearing to challenge the infinitely exponential value of spiritual life? Is it money, sex, politics? What perishables do you entrust your life to?>>> among the "trinkets" you list as alternatives to religion [as religion is defined in our society], you do not include the individual's inherent decency with recognition of the rights of others. do you honestly believe that absent religion, we would all be conscienceless savages?
David Webb December 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Overwrought responses? Deeply felt pain? Hardly! And I don't ask for or expect any sympathy, only respect. Ignorance and intolerance should NEVER go unaddressed. It's unknown to me why my original comments where deleted, but obviously their message was not appreciated. And whether you realize it or not, by making blank statements that religion (and, therefore, any who practices that religion) are responsible for causing "pain and division among people," you unjustly accuse all the countless missionaries that travel to impoverished and forgotten nations, villages and tribes to generously provide food, clothing, medicine and shelter. These men and women volunteer for missions NOT out of compulsion or in obligation to any political agenda, or for financial gain or publicity. No, they do it because through the Word of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that they ALREADY acknowledge these forgotten and abused people as their brothers and sisters. As for the "communal good," the world doesn't need another example of Communism or Socialism. We already know of N. Korea and S. Korea, West Berlin and East Berlin, the USSR and the USA. There's even Havana and Miami! Simply put, no population in human history has even flocked in droves to a Communist/ Socialist country. On the contrary, only the opposite. Too many have lost so much for anyone to forget or ignore the lessons of that history! Peace be with you.
ingeborg oppenheimer December 16, 2012 at 06:33 PM
david, the tone of your comments comfirms my sense of your emotional over-attachment to your beliefs. were that not so you would recognize that missionaries did as much damage as good, in that they deprived those whom they were feeding food of their own and their ancestors' cultures. you don't see this as wrong because those cultures did not include a belief in jesus christ. well neither do the cultures of many folks today, including folks who practice religions other than christianity. so what are your thoughts about those believers? as for communism, while claiming to endorse the common good, in operation it displayed anything but attention to the common good. among its deficits was its anti-religion stance. that said, the concept of the common good is a baby that should not be thrown out with the communism bathwater. i wish you peace as well; i wish all of us peace!
David Webb December 16, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Consider the history of the past millennia. I think it speaks in volume that, given the opportunity to establish and frame a new nation of laws, that America's founding fathers, even while rejecting the so-called "divine right" of Europe's monarchies, knew they could not deny or reject the Architect of all things and become a nation of law, order and honorable men. Indeed, by decreeing over two-hundred feasts and festivals -- during which NO WAR could be waged -- the Holy See paved the path for Europe to experience the Renaissance. Because young men were not lost to endless battles, they remained at home where they learned to read, write poems and letters, play instruments and make advances in the sciences. ALL of this in the name of Christ our Savior!
David Webb December 16, 2012 at 06:40 PM
"How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" by Thomas E. Woods Jr http://www.amazon.com/Catholic-Church-Built-Western-Civilization/dp/0895260387/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
ingeborg oppenheimer December 16, 2012 at 06:47 PM
<<<Consider the history of the past millennia. I think it speaks in volume that, given the opportunity to establish and frame a new nation of laws, that America's founding fathers, even while rejecting the so-called "divine right" of Europe's monarchies, knew they could not deny or reject the Architect of all things and become a nation of law, order and honorable men. Indeed, by decreeing over two-hundred feasts and festivals -- during which NO WAR could be waged -- the Holy See paved the path for Europe to experience the Renaissance. Because young men were not lost to endless battles, they remained at home where they learned to read, write poems and letters, play instruments and make advances in the sciences. ALL of this in the name of Christ our Savior!>>> david, if this is your response to the question of what you think about religious believers whose beliefs do not include the savior you believe in, would you mind spelling it out in so many words?
David Webb December 17, 2012 at 09:49 AM
As they say in the "news" business: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." The methodology behind that report has been disputed. Hemenway arrived at that number by taking the number of gun-related deaths in America (and other nations) and evenly distributing that number across the ENTIRE population. A look at the U.S Statistical Abstract shows that Hemenway's report misrepresents that actually numbers, even when compared to those nations in his report. Some nations in the report also record data differently, incompletely, or not at all. While it feels nice to point to the "experts" at Harvard, there's a reason serious studies yield to peer review and criticism. Academia has also become a de facto "think tank" for manufacturing consensus on a number of domestic social issues, which is why reports like these have lost the influence they once held. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/
David Webb December 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM
I can't speak for Muslims, Jews, and other religious folks. You'll have to ask them. It wouldn't be fair to speak on their behalf. I can and will, however, speak on behalf of the all the good, selfless deeds that Christians have given their time, strength, and effort to provide for those less fortunate, again, in the name of Christ our Savior. I'm as "[over-attached]" to my Faith as I'm over-attached to the science of genetics, physics, and biology -- which were discovered and pioneered by Christians, often at the behest of the Holy See! Go figure, eh? Your argument that Missionaries are at fault for, supposedly, not providing the natives their favorite cultural food is... well, let's just say that it's "weak." Consider for a moment that these are often people with NOTHING to eat, period. I doubt they'd feel offended if offered something other than their grandmother's couscous or rice pilaf. Unless you've read Mr. Woods' scholarly work in "How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization", there's really nothing more to say at the moment. Considering your, oh, "absent mindedness" of the history, it just wouldn't be fare. Read the history. A reading of The Holy Bible is always good, as well. Christ be with you!
Ann Fanizzi December 17, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Remembering Newtown and honoring the innocents - Early yesterday morning about 7, I sent a letter to the papers of our county. I hope it will be printed. Today, I am going to call the pastors of churches and the rabbis, urging them to lead an interfaith service so that Putnam County residents can demonstrate their solidarity with their fellow grieving residents of Newtown. If you are a member of a church or synagogue or temple, could you lend your voice to this effort? And then, if you are so disposed, join Mayor Bloomberg's campaign against assault guns and ammunition (www.mayorscampaignagainstillegalguns.org And contact our national, state and local elected representatives to take immediate action. They are all listed in the telephone book and readily available online. The murderer spoke but now we must speak louder than the bullets that extinguished the lives of the innocent children and brave educators.. Let our light shine in the darkness and overcome the darkness.
ingeborg oppenheimer December 17, 2012 at 02:20 PM
mr. webb, in your comments about missionaries you demonstrate your commitment to what has come to be called "the white man's burden" - the myth that it is a godly duty to convert the dark-skinned people of the world to christianity. perhaps you should do some reading; i suggest <<<The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good>>>. just to be clear, i did not intimate that it was the missionaries' duty to "feed" culture to people they believed they were helping; it was their duty to provide the help without at the same time telling them that their own beliefs were false and that only christianity is the true belief. and it's not at all consistent with religion, including christianity, to talk as condescendingly as you do about the people missionaries were supposed to help! finally, speaking of not letting truth get in the way of a story, perhaps you should also bone up on the major contributions of jews and arabs to the development of mathematics and other sciences; these were certainly not solely, or even mainly, achievements by christians. your final comment - "christ be with you!" - also speaks to your contempt for those whose religions do not see christ, or any human, as god. so you have answered that question. i do agree with your intimation that there is no basis for further discussion between us, since we are from differing intellectual and cultural universes.
David Webb December 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The tone of your comments confirms that your hubris blinds you from any genuine understanding or concession. Like most anti-theist bullies, you're a pessimist; nit-picking and grasping at straws where you offer no viable alternative and have no valid counter-argument to stand behind. Were that not so, you would recognize that Asia and Africa are extraordinary examples where native populations have adopted Christianity at extraordinary rates, all while maintaining their cultural and national identity. The White man's burden? How odd, considering I'm NOT White, but instead multiracial. I wasn't aware you were a psychologist, either. Perhaps next you'll accuse me of having "Uncle Tom" syndrome? As a Jew, you may very well owe your life to Pope Pius XII who, under the threat of Fascism in both Italy and Germany, commissioned trains to smuggle Jews out of Nazi Germany for refuge within the walls of churches, convents, rectories and even the Vatican! Pius XII even went as far as to pay the Nazi's ransom of one hundred pounds of gold for those Jews captured in their attempt to escape certain death! Since you predictably have some ridiculous excuse to dismiss everything a Christian does, please also explain what you think the Holy See did wrong in bringing salvation to so many of your ancestors!? In retrospect, your comments appear more and more "overwrought." Perhaps it's you that needs sympathy. You, instead, have my pity. Christ be with you!
ingeborg oppenheimer December 17, 2012 at 04:13 PM
i received by email an announcement of a new comment from david, which after reading in the email i can only describe as a diatribe, but which i don't see here among the comments. assuming that is only because of a delay, here is my response [david's comment having again ended with "christ be with you"]: and may the god of abraham, isaac, and jacob be with you, and help you to perceive the world you live in and its history as they really are!
ingeborg oppenheimer December 17, 2012 at 04:15 PM
correction: i see that david's comment is now above mine.
David Webb December 17, 2012 at 07:50 PM
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob are ALREADY with me, and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, is His glorified servant! "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses." Acts 3:13-15 Christ be with you!
ingeborg oppenheimer December 17, 2012 at 08:26 PM
oy vey, and if i were to classify those remarks as rank antisemitism, you would probably come back with a comment to the effect that you are actually being pro-semitic in trying to bring jews into your fold. david, i yield the field to your meshugass! be well!
David Webb December 17, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Oy? Vey? Wait a minute... Rejoice, the Jew has reveled himself from behind his cloak and mask! Ingeborg, we should all be so elated to see that, despite your hubris, you're not entirely beyond redemption and have come to acknowledge God and His people -- even if only in a cynical attempt to thumb your nose at me! At least it means you've reclaimed your Jewish roots, instead of parading like a staunch atheist. Like the Mossad, "by way of deception, thou shalt do war," right? After all, you would have to be a REALLY sick person to disparage and discourage the faiths of ALL OTHERS, while privately nurturing and advancing the faith of YOUR OWN tribe, right? I mean, notwithstanding the hypocrisy, false pretenses and intellectual dishonesty, what tribe of people would do such a thing? Christ be with us all!
ingeborg oppenheimer December 17, 2012 at 10:11 PM
here's a message i just posted on assemblywoman nita lowey's facebook page: ms. lowey, after reading about the gun collection of the shooter's mother and her enthusiasm for guns - not to speak of her encouraging her children, including a psychologically disabled son, to learn how to shoot - i urge lawmakers to give special attention to multiple-gun ownership. laws should focus on psychological underpinnings of the urge to accumulate guns, safe storage practices, and some form of restriction on how the guns can be used. and as this tragedy demonstrates, attention is needed not only on the registered gun owner, but also on other members of the household. while privacy concerns may be raised, the concern for public safety should trump such concerns. i suggest others also share their feelings and views with their legislators.
Issy December 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM
That is just a sick and disingenuous comment,. 20 young children died and we as a society need to do whatever it takes to make sure it does not happen again and yes if that means stricter gun laws so be it.
BG7 December 17, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Yes, very revealing. Your concern for your guns, and the privacy of your guns, and your gun's well being is very touching.
Abby Normal December 17, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Why don't we stop this cr*p. Yes some guns should be illegal, and here's an eye opener for you folks. Some knives are already illegal. That's right, switchblades, gravity knives, daggers, all illegal. Chukka Sticks, illegal, sword canes, illegal, brass knuckles, illegal. Even some cars are illegal and cannot be registered for use on the street. So if we can regulate knives, cars and sticks please don't tell me that we can't regulate guns because our founding fathers thought everyone should own a musket.. There is no legitimate reason any law abiding citizen needs a high powered rifle with a 30 round magazine, a flash suppressor or a collapsible stock.
John Taggart December 17, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Look at all the other school shootings. Its a prescription drug to solve all problems and an out of toutch society that dosent know their children issue. Look up " I am Adam Lanza's mother"..by Lisa Long on FB
ingeborg oppenheimer December 17, 2012 at 11:56 PM
for those who want to read liza long's heart-rending article, i suggest checking out the huffington post; i couldn't find it on facebook. i tried to put the link here but couldn't [still much to learn about these sites and programs :-(] the problem of dealing with children's mental illness does not come with easy answers...
ingeborg oppenheimer December 18, 2012 at 12:48 AM
there is a comment after liza long's article written by a person who has lived with mental illness for what sounds like a lifetime, and who reflects the kind of self-awareness and understanding of her illness that is so essential for healing to at least begin. perhaps the effort to improve treatment for such conditions should start with contributions by the sufferers themselves. [i tried to paste the comment but got a "tolstoy" message about its being too long :-(]
Racman63 December 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
10 Things we can do now in response to Newtown that doesn’t involve waiting for our legislators to enact new laws or pending laws. 1) Do not vacation in the States of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania. According to tracetheguns.org, these states with lax gun laws are known proliferators of illegally bought and smuggled weapons used in violent crimes in other states. 2) Occupy NRA headquarters in Fairfax Va. Identify the names of the actual NRA lobbyists and publish them. 3) Block entrances to gun shows and gun shops the same way anti-abortion activists do at women’s clinics 4) Name Names. See list of the top congressional recipients of campaign donations from the NRA. Vilify, shame, embarrass, disclose.
Racman63 December 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
5) Bullets are made of lead, a known toxic substance. Petition town governments to enact extremely stringent and costly restrictions on disposal of lead at shooting ranges. 6) Boycott Walmart. Walmart is the nation’s leading retailer of guns and gun related products. 7) Name more Names: ID the CEO’s, directors, and majority shareholders of the major gun manufacturers in the U.S. among them, The Freedom Group, maker of the Bushmaster automatic weapon (owned by Cerberus Capital, a private equity firm) 8) Contact your Congress person and U.S. Senator and tell them how you feel about gun violence and what YOU intend to do about it. Do not ask them to do anything. You tell them what You Are going to do. Shame them in to following; do not wait for them to lead 9) Organize a massive rally on D.C. of anti-gun violence proponents; the rally must be held while Congress is in session so the law-makers can see, hear and feel our presence. 10) Start a grass roots organization to repeal the second amendment that includes confiscation of existing of firearms. Send the issue of firearm ownership back to the States where the individual States can issue licenses for hunting only.
ingeborg oppenheimer December 18, 2012 at 01:29 AM
with regard to the 2nd amendment all that's needed, actually, is repeal of district of columbia v. heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), in which the court ruled that the second amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia. ownership rights should be tied to military and police needs, with very limited permission for the public otherwise.
FJT December 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM
So, here we are today, certain of just a little more than when this sentence in the article above was written: "At this point, we know very little and do well not to speculate about what is not yet known." I've never seen so much misinformation and disinformation in the wake of a tragic event. And here I'm talking about what the so-called professional journalists have provided us in the way of hard news about what happened in Newtown. Looking for more information, I began digging on the Internet and found the UK news media had far more to offer in the way of facts than the US news media. I also discovered some interesting perspectives on YouTube that were extremely disturbing in terms of the probing questions raised by average citizens (not journalists) and their implications going forward. Though some of the videos are absurd, others clearly reveal that the professional journalists -- upon which we, out of habit, depend on for our news -- have been totally outclassed by talented amateurs. Whatever happened to investigative journalism by professional reporters? All I know is that it's pretty much gone, and if you want to truly understand the news today, you need to do some serious digging and analysis of your own.

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