We Can’t Compare Pain, We Can Only Use Ours to Comfort Others in Theirs [Why I'm still blogging today in spite of the National Blog Silence Day.]

by Charlotte on December 16, 2012 · 47 comments

fairydust

Flowers, funeral programs. Obituary, organ donation. What you’ll dress them in. Will you have a viewing and if so, will the casket be open? Who do you want to pray? What picture do you want displayed? Is it copyrighted? A death is a big thing but it leaves so many little details that must be attended to. In one respect, it’s a gift, being able to have something to focus on. But in another breath it’s the worst kind of limbo there is: doing the last living tasks for a person who is no longer living. For a person who doesn’t need them. For the people who still do need them, who still need you. It’s in these little moments that the pain seeps in. These decisions you never planned on making, or if you did, still wish fervently that you didn’t have to.

For me it was picking out a casket. Our daughter was still so newly dead that the hospital hadn’t even released her body and yet I was faced with a wall of child-sized coffins. A wall of the worst kind of choice. “Would she like pink?” (She was an infant, who knows what she would have liked? Judging from my pregnancy she was a big fan of pink lemonade…) “Do you like the inscribed angel? It costs a little more but we can put her name on there too and…” I tuned the funeral director out and instead ran my hand lightly over each tiny box as I considered which one would be the perfect vessel for such a broken body. But I, the woman who’d carried her inside me, could not pick a box, that was essentially a cold womb. Straight from my body to the body of the earth? A tomb womb. A silent fury welled up inside of me. “There shouldn’t even BE child-sized coffins!” I blurted out. And then, per my usual, I burst into tears and ran out of the room.

We cremated Faith for one simple reason: I could not bear to put that tiny little body in the cold ground and then just leave her there. Could. Not. Do. It. I decided I would rather have her go up in one bright, all-consuming blaze. And when you’re a hysterical, grieving mother, people basically do whatever you want. And so we chose this:

IMAG1299

Cold comfort, yes, but at least I can still hold something of her when I feel like it. It’s so tiny because, it turns out, babies are mostly made up of light and angel feathers and when the flames are finished, all that’s left is a handful of fairy dust.

Any death is a heartbreak, especially to those who loved and lost. The death of a child is a particularly poignant tragedy. But the deaths of 20 elementary school children gunned down by a psychotic man in a bullet-proof vest is an incomprehensible horror. Except that we’re all forced to comprehend it now, in our own way. And, just like that day in the funeral home, that old fury rose up inside me. I don’t want to comprehend this! I don’t want anyone to have to! I hate that we have to.

We have to.

On Friday, when everything about the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, was new and badly reported and uncertain, Krista started, “Can you imagine what those kids must have felt having to watch…”

“JUST STOP!” Megan and I bellowed simultaneously, holding out our hands as if that impotent gesture could stem the immediate and overwhelming flood of emotion. I have a kindergartner. So does Megan. And so we can imagine. But we will ourselves not to. As I watched the news unfold, I fought the urge to run to my kids’ school and pull them out of class for no reason other than to assure myself of their corporeality. The thought that someone could look into all those tiny, trusting faces and then so violently end their lives… it’s. It’s. I don’t know what it is. It’s an unspeakable evil.

Which is exactly why I’m blogging today. Over the weekend I got a sweet e-mail from some friends who are participating in “Silent Blog Monday” – keeping their computers off and their screens dark as a show of respect for the 27 lives that were so cruelly silenced. (And perhaps it also is somewhat of a protest against the awful onslaught of invasive media in the immediate aftermath of the massacre?) It’s a good idea. It’s a kind idea. And I love anything kind. If this helps them hold their loved ones a little tighter and makes them feel like at least they can do something then I’m happy for it. I understand it.

But everyone makes sense of the insensible in their own way and for me, my solace is in words – in writing my own and reading yours. And I don’t want to let that evil man have the power to silence my voice too. What do we do with unspeakable evil? We speak of it and bring it out into the light.

I say this not because I think I can speak for them. Nor can I even pretend to understand the pain of losing a cherished son or daughter in such a nightmarish way. I don’t know what they’re going through. And I wish they didn’t know either. Yet, I do understand that loss a tiny amount. One tablespoon, to be exact. Did you know that’s all the ashes a baby makes?

This isn’t an essay to sell you on the benefits of cremation but rather to say that we should not compare pain. Everyone has pain and everyone’s is uniquely devastating to them. It’s the major commonality of the human experience. Which is exactly why today I think we need to encircle those grieving left-behinds with our arms, our love and our words. We gain so much by sharing our pain and ourselves. Everyone hurts. Every death matters. The violent, evil and deranged may be powerful but we have the capacity to be more so.

And so I say to those bereft parents: Your children are important to me; their deaths are meaningful to me. I did not know them but I cannot forget them because your pain is my pain. I hope someday you find the words to speak about, and for, your little ones. Maybe not today. Maybe not for years. But when you’re ready the words will come to you and they’ll be more powerful than any bullet.

P.S. For anyone who hasn’t seen this yet, check out Buzzfeed’s top 25 moments that restored our faith in humanity this year. It’s a beautiful reminder of all the good that people can, and do, do. It’ll make you happy-cry:)

How do you grieve – are you one who is comforted by talking or do you prefer to be more introspective? If you prefer quiet, I totally understand that. But if you too are looking for a way to talk about it, you are welcome to talk about it here. Should I have kept the blog dark today? Am I remiss in talking about something so far out of my purview? I truly don’t want to make anyone hurt more. (Regular GFE shenanigans will resume tomorrow.)

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah December 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

This is the most touching thing I had read related to the tragedy. Thank you Charlotte for your honesty and for sharing.

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:36 am

Thank you Sarah – this means a lot to me:)

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Malin December 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

Hi Charlotte,

I love your blog immensely. I think you’re funny and poignant and you manage to address both the lighter and the harsher sides of life.

But in the light of the shootings in Connecticut, I would like to address the issue of mental illness. And I hope maybe we can have a conversation about how we use words like “psycho”, “crazy” and similar. Because I see this reoccurring everywhere. Not just with this shooting, but anywhere something violent and tragic happened.

I don’t know whether the shooter in this case was mentally ill or not. He killed himself so we can’t know. But the thing is, most people who deal with mental illness are not violent, or malicious. They will never harm anyone in their lives. Yet whenever a tragedy of this scope happens we reach for the crazy. Surely that person must’ve been crazy who did that. It’s easier on our conscience as a society to categorize these people as crazy because that means we don’t have to make sense of what happened.

By doing this we are harming and stigmatizing everyone who has ever had or ever will have
a mental illness. And it doesn’t matter if that mental illness is bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression or anorexia and bulimia.

“Yet, people with mental illness actually are victims of violent crime at a rate 11 times higher than that of the general population. Mentally ill people are more likely to end up in violent and abusive relationships, particularly women. Mentally ill people of all genders and nongenders are more likely to be sexually assaulted, to be beaten, to be raped in those institutions many people want to stick us in ‘for the good of society.’ We are less likely to be believed when we report all of these things. [...]

The claim is often made that society needs to be protected from people with mental illness when in fact, the situation is just the opposite; we need to be protected from society. ” (source: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/03/29/gun-registries-dont-stop-suicide-mental-health-services-do/ )

I try to stop reflexively use “crazy” or “insane” as a short-hand for “stupid, terrible, horrible or idiotic thing/person/occurrence which does not make sense to me.” And it’s important for that same reasons that it’s important that we don’t use “faggot” as a derogatory term, or whore, or the n-word. And it’s hard. But I think it’s important that we do, because it’s not until we do that we can start addressing the real, underlying issues, rather than just writing them off like an act of random “madness”.

Thank you for listening.

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:34 am

Hi Malin! Thank you so much for bringing up this important subject, and in such a kind, caring way. As a person with a mental illness (or three) and from a family with a strong history of it, I felt very comforted by it. I think however, you also meant it as a censure (which is ok! I’d rather be corrected than go on saying something hurtful). But I’m not sure which part of my post you are referring to? I never used the word “crazy” even once. I did describe the killer as “psychotic” but I meant it in the clinical sense: “refers to an abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”. Perhaps I’m wrong but I’d always thought that someone who commits suicide and/or a violent act such as this one is, by the very definition “of abnormal condition of the mind” (since a normal mental state is not killing people) and, I guess I assumed, also indicated “a loss of contact with reality” – in the most literal sense. I wasn’t trying to be derogatory or throw the term out as an excuse or to frighten people about those with mental illnesses. The statistics about the mentally ill more likely to be victims of violence are sadly very true. They’re also more likely to be homeless, to have heart disease and to die earlier. These vulnerable members of our society absolutely need our support – not our derision. So I’m so sorry if something I wrote made you think otherwise! If you could point out which quote of mine sparked these thoughts for you I’m more than happy to change my wording! I just combed through it and couldn’t find what you meant…?

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:47 am

Okay, so I went through it again – my last wish is to cause any more additional pain! – and I took out the sentence “It’s the definition of insanity.” I was referring to the act, not the person but I can see where we use insane as short-hand for mentally ill why that would be bothersome. I also used the word “deranged” – not specifically about this person but in general. Again, I meant it technically: “To upset the normal condition or functioning of.” but perhaps this too has lost its original meaning? My intent was to be precise, not callous. Anyhow, like I said before I’m happy to change any wording that is upsetting!

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Malin December 17, 2012 at 8:48 am

Hi Charlotte,

Thank you for your reply (I’m always so impressed by the time and thoughtfulness you put into answering your comments), I really appreciate that, and for taking out the reference to insanity.

I guess I am also not merely talking about your blog post, but also generally about how we as people/society/culture etc. talk about these things. So my response here is not so much about asking for changes in your blog post as it’s about having a conversation dervied from it, I hope that’s okay. I really don’t think your blog post is terrible, you write very eloquently about a difficult and painful subject, so I hope you don’t think that. :)

“Perhaps I’m wrong but I’d always thought that someone who commits suicide and/or a violent act such as this one is, by the very definition “of abnormal condition of the mind” (since a normal mental state is not killing people) and, I guess I assumed, also indicated “a loss of contact with reality” – in the most literal sense.”

This is the feeling I had from your post and that I took issue with, partially. Because there are other definitions of insanity as well, like the legal definition (subject to differences in different countires of course) “such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility” (merriam-webster definition of insanity: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insanity?show=0&t=1355753313). And I think you’ll agree that not everyone who committs murders or other acts of violence lack the mental capacity to understand what they’re doing – they are responsible for what they did, and I don’t think they are neccesarily divorced from reality in order to do the things they did. They don’t have a “condition”.

Speaking more broadly and generally than just your blog post I think the reason why this troubles me is that I have the impression that mental illness, insanity, etc. are only ever discussed (in the mainstream) in context of someone committing violent acts. So it creates a synonym between violence and mental disability which is dangerous. Dangerous because people with mental illness become and are the victim of prejudice, discrimination and exclusion. They can’t get the healthcare they need etc. There needs to be some kind of distinction. Maybe it’s a language thing. Maybe we need new words.

But it’s also dangerous because it prevents another discussion from taking place: If the people who committ acts of extreme violence and prejudice are not mentally disturbed, crazy or insane, then what is the problem? When we label these people as crazy or disturbed what we are saying is that this is the problem of individuals, rather than one of society and culture. Violence, political and religious extremism, persecution of various minorities etc. are far more prevalent in societies with extreme wealth and class differences, where there is extreme poverty and lack of education and opportunity. It’s uncomfortable I believe because as a society we can change and improve these things but it also means that we as a society have a responsibility somehow. That’s an uncomfortable thought. And I think that is one reason why we are more likely to just reflexively to label tragedies like this as “insanity” in one fashion or another.

And like I said, a lot of these thoughts were spurred not merely by your blog posts but by how conversations around this subject have been going on generally. Does that make sense?

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since you posted. You’re right, of course, to make mental illness a focal point of the discussion (and the national discussion seems to be veering that direction too). Have you read this piece yet? http://gawker.com/5968818/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother
I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it!

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Malin December 27, 2012 at 5:53 am

Hi Charlotte!

Sorry for the lateness of the response. Holiday craziness happened, but I didn’t want to leave this unfinished because I HAVE read the blog post you’re referring to, just as it came out I believe and while I appreciate that it was written with good intentions it left me deeply uncomfortable, which I’ll get to in a moment.

My heart goes out to this mother because she is in an incredibly difficult position and because it highlights the problems of the American healthcare system in so many ways. You have to have a steady job (can’t freelance, screwed over royally if you’re unemployed etc), there’s no system except the bloody freaking *prison system* to deal with mental illness (I mean, that is seriously f*cked up on so many levels I can’t even- it boggles the mind). Her situation, her family’s situation, sucks.

But I was uncomfortable reading it, and at first I had trouble articulating why, but I think this blog post explains my doubts pretty well:

http://thegirlwhowasthursday.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/you-are-not-adam-lanzas-mother/ (It”s not terribly long so in the interest of brevity I will not quote it).

There is also the issue of the author, the mother in this case. Is she a reliable narrator? She has a blog and another blogger decided to read it and post excerpts of it on her own blog:

“Long has written a series of vindictive and cruel posts about her children in which she fantasizes about beating them, locking them up and giving them away. In most posts, her allegedly insane and violent son is portrayed as a normal boy who incites her wrath by being messy, buying too many Apple products and supporting Obama.”

http://sarahkendzior.com/2012/12/16/want-the-truth-behind-i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-read-her-blog/

I want to be clear that I don’t assume that Sara Kendizor automatically has “the full story”, but none of us who are having this conversation, do. It’s important to try and consider all sides. Especially because those who are actually mentally ill rarely gets heard in these “national conversations”.

I also wanted to point out (though I’m sure you’ve heard by now) the words of NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre:

“The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can every possibly comprehend them. They walk among us every single day, and does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school, he’s already identified at this very moment? How many more copycats are waiting in the wings…? A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”

Though this is extreme and most liberal people are actively mocking him and the NRA the reality is that a lot of people act, think and feel this way about people who are mentally ill. They freely associate “mentally ill” with words like “monster”, “deranged”, “evil” which creates even more stigma and discrimination against those who live with mental illness. That kind of stigma is not helpful and certainly will not solve the problems with mental health care within the USA. It also makes it hard for us to see things for what they really are. I want to use a fairly recent example that hit very close to home for me.

In July 22, 2011 Anders Behring Breivik blew up a car outside of government headquarters killing 8 people and injuring ca 200. After that he went, dressed as a police officer, to the island of Utöya where a summer camp for the youth division of the AUF (the ruling Norweigan Labour Party) is held every year. And then he systematically went around the island for hours, shooting children. In total, he killed 69 children on that island. His explicit purpose was to eradicate the next generation of political leaders of a party that he hated. Evil, right? Absolutely it was evil, but he was not insane. He was not mentally disturbed. He planned this attack for almost ten years, he absolutely had his wits about him. He was cogent, organized, disciplined, stable. He was clinically tested before the trial and found to be sane. You can be that evil and still be sane.

I live in Sweden, I remember all of this unfolding very clearly. When the first news came it was described as a terrorist action, but as soon as it became apparent that the gunman was a white male, with blue eyes and blond hair the newspapers started calling him a crazy gunman, a madman, an isolated incident. That turned into a huge debate in and of itself and it is now rightly labelled for what it was: a terrorist attack.

I’m not saying that the CT shootings were a terrorist attack, but the thing is we have to be willing to look hard at these things in order to call them by their right name if we truly want to do something about it. Breivik wasn’t insane, he was a fascist (yes, as in he-should’ve-worn-a-brown-uniform-fascist, not as a catch-all name for being a bad person). That’s a political ideology, and we fight that kind of battle in parliament with democratic means.

If we constantly push aside these horrible events and deny that any “sane” person could do such a thing we are denying an aspect of human society and human psyche. Even if it’s terrible it’s human. I think we do this because it’s scary and depressing to imagine that this is human nature, but human history is *full* of these atrocities and worse besides that. It’s part of human culture. As long as we are unwilling to face that truth we are also unable and *unwilling* to look for the right solutions to stop this from happening. We’re coddling ourselves in favour of looking for real answers.

So this turned into another really long, rambling thing, sorry. I wanted to reiterate that this is not all taken from your original blog post, or directed solely at you and more about having a conversation about the conversation about the CT shootings (*phew* did you follow that one?).

Hannah December 17, 2012 at 5:47 am

Agreed with Sarah. Best thing yet. I’ve been utterly bothered by the media’s coverage and “cliche” tributes that are going on. I wonder why everyone, especially on facebook, feels the need to make a Public Service Announcement about the tragedy. Leaving the familes to grieve while silently offering our prayers and thoughts is the way to go. Pretending we KNOW their pain only feels cheap and trite!

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Redhead December 17, 2012 at 6:47 am

Thank you!! I’ve been bothered by this too but felt like a bad person for saying it. I think the main reason it bugs me is that it’s not people trying to extend honest sympathy to the parents, or people going “wow, kindergardners, what it it were MY kid that age?” the ones I’ve seen are basically attention-whoring-people who have no connection to what happened posting that they’re traumatized by it and don’t know how to go on (NOT family and friends of the victims, just people who watched the news) or posting photos of something different with details, a few true but mostly made up, so people will give them attention. Let the friends and family grieve for at least a week without making it all about you.
(not directing this at you Charlotte-this seems more “I am synpathrtic and don’t know how to help” than “oh my god look how this tragedy affected ME”)

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:48 am

Thank you Hannah and Redhead! My intent wasn’t to say anything about the way others have covered it but simply to add my voice, support and love to the conversation. I hope it was helpful. I really appreciate you both taking the time to read this and for your kind words – they really mean a lot to me!

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My Running Stitches December 17, 2012 at 6:41 am

“…babies are mostly made up of light and angel feathers and when the flames are finished, all that’s left is a handful of fairy dust.”

I have seven children. Three of my children are adults, but still my children. I have one angel. I love your description. I had to read it several times. I choked back tears each time I read it.

My youngest child is 7 years old. He’s the same age as the angels in the Newtown Conn. tragedy. My son had a holiday party Friday morning. I didn’t want to go. The novelty of watching my children play holiday games and eat Christmas cookies from the back of the class room worn off long ago. I went and pretended to feel the holiday excitement.

I came home to see the coverage on TV. I cried. I cried for their loss. I cried for the guilt I was feeling for not appreciating the little things in my life. This might be old for me, but it’s all new, bright and shiny for my little guy.

I gave him an extra squeeze when he got off the bus Friday afternoon.

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:51 am

Oh I am so sorry for your loss too! I choked up reading your comment – it’s so powerful to me that no matter how many children we have or how long it’s been, we never forget those lost angels:) Thank you for sharing your angel with me.

And I had the same thought about the class parties! I only have four kids and I’m already tired of them (sorry kids!). But I too cried when I saw the news on TV and regretted those little thoughts myself too. THis: “I came home to see the coverage on TV. I cried. I cried for their loss. I cried for the guilt I was feeling for not appreciating the little things in my life. This might be old for me, but it’s all new, bright and shiny for my little guy.” is so beautifully said. Thank you!

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Susan Helene Gottfried December 17, 2012 at 6:52 am

Babe, once again, you’ve nailed it. On top of this tragedy, I’ve had a loss — a ten-days-before-the-due-date loss. Not of my very own, but of a family member I love like a sister. I know you’ve been where she is, and reading what you have to say today… well, it tears me apart that she now has to go through what you have. This isn’t a club either of you deserve.

Yet if you weren’t able to write about it, I’d never have the insights that have enabled me to grieve so deeply. I’d have brushed it off and kept on going, refusing to let it pierce my own anti-hurt armor.

Keep writing about it, Charlotte. You’ve made me a better person, and I owe you big for that.

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:54 am

Thank you Susan! Both for reading this and for sharing your loved one’s story. I am so sorry for her loss and so grateful that you have been able to be there for her! Friends like that are gold:) Your comment totally made my day. This ” I’d never have the insights that have enabled me to grieve so deeply. I’d have brushed it off and kept on going, refusing to let it pierce my own anti-hurt armor” is poignant and why I do what I do. I’m glad I could help you a tiny bit in your journey!

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Liza December 17, 2012 at 7:36 am

Thank you, Charlotte.

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Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 7:54 am
Emily December 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

Beautiful, Charlotte. I think that you are exactly right to point out that everyone grieves in their own way. Everyone processes trauma in their own way. There is no “right” way to do it, and good on you for expressing this so poignantly and beautifully. You are a gifted writer and I just loved this entry for that feeling of acceptance. I hope many others will have the chance to read this too.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Thank you, Emily:) I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

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Rebecca December 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

My pastor relayed a FB post from his nephew that’s helping me to process things a little bit better, (and I’m paraphrasing) “I find that I’m conflicted between pushing for tougher gun laws, buying six of my own guns and hugging each of the children that I know and love. And I realize that it’s only the last that has any chance of making a real difference.” Peace to each of those familiess as they process their immediate and painful losses and to everyone that has lost a child.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Aw, I love that! Beautifully put anonymous pastor’s nephew:)

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Rhonda December 17, 2012 at 9:00 am

I think it is wonderful to let those people know how deeply we care. We care so much it hurts. It hurts so bad. God Bless us All.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Agreed, my friend.

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Geosomin December 17, 2012 at 9:06 am

Very kindly said. I am somewhat lost as to what I should say. As someone who isn’t a parent, I cannot even begin to comprehend it all. I cannot comprehend what would make someone ill enough to do such a horrible thing. I can understand why everyone seems to have something to say though…how can you not have a reaction to something so awful as this?
I just hope that we, as a culture and society start looking at ourselves and trying to help each other. It keeps going through my head over and over again that maybe if someone had reached out to this guy and helped him this might not have happened. We can’t isolate ourselves from each other. Together we are stronger.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 10:58 pm

“We can’t isolate ourselves from each other. Together we are stronger.” I believe this completely, too:)

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Renée December 17, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thank you for your words, Charlotte. I knew your post would be everything it is. I love your way with words, very comforting this morning. Big hugs to you, I know that when horror confronts us, it always has a way of reminding us if our loss(es) and I want to thank you for sharing. (((hugs)))

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Thank you Renee – big hugs right back at you:) I know you that you are feeling this too…

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Laura is Undeterrable December 17, 2012 at 10:29 am

Thank you.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm

:) Laura

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Kylie December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Ordinarily, the tragic events in cities across the US don’t affect me much. Yes, they make me sad, and I mourn for the victims, but otherwise it feels remote. I don’t live in Newtown or Columbine, or in any town that has experienced horrific crimes like mass murder. The Newtown shootings, however, made a big impact on me. Perhaps because the children were so young, and I am still a minor myself. The thought of leaving this world in such an abrupt and violent way is overwhelming. I cried for these victims. No one deserves this, especially not kindergarten children. Maybe their innocence will save them. I do not blame Adam Lanza, he was as much a victim as anyone. His mental illness was not treated because of the ridiculous stigma of being “different” in our society. These crimes would be less frequent if we had a better tolerance for one another, if bullying was stopped, if those suffering could receive the care they need. I do not believe Lanza is innocent or should be pardoned for murdering twenty children, but I don’t think he was entirely at fault either. This entire incident is unbelievably sad, and I feel like there is little we can do right now unless real change occurs. We all encounter our share of suffering in this life, maybe we don’t see the reason why right now, but I believe suffering has a purpose and an important role in the long run. Thank you Charlotte, for writing this post. It means a lot to all of us, and I’m sure if the parents of the victims could see the support even from all over America they would be touched.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm

“This entire incident is unbelievably sad, and I feel like there is little we can do right now unless real change occurs. We all encounter our share of suffering in this life, maybe we don’t see the reason why right now, but I believe suffering has a purpose and an important role in the long run.” Yes, this. I agree 100%. In fact, sometimes this is the only thing that keeps me going;)

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Beth December 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Our Urn is larger, our daughter was 29 to the day when she died in a car accident. I don’t ever hold the box but I like knowing that I can. I also could not stand the thought of her in the ground. I don’t know what those parents are feeling, but I know what I still feel everyday. I greive for us all.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Oh Beth! I’m so so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. What a heartbreak. Although I am kinda glad to know that someone else had the same fear of burial that I did… ((hugs)) to you.

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Matt December 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Thank you for the link about reasons to have faith in others Charlotte. I needed it today.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Agreed! That Buzzfeed list was beautiful. Totally made me happy-cry!

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Jody - Fit at 55 December 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I saw that link Charlotte.. Just THANK you for this… I have no other words for your post – thank you!

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Right back at’cha Jody!

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Jess December 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Thank you for writing this! It made me cry, but the situation devastates me. I can’t fathom it. I want to hug all those families and give them back their babies. I want it all to be a huge misunderstanding. Xxxxxxxx

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I do too. ((hugs)) to you Jess!

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cookie December 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Charlotte, you sure have the right take on this: it was evil. It wasn’t because he has Asberger’s (which is what I keep hearing in the news) or any other conditions. This was something he thought about in advance, at least I doubt if he walked around in body armor everyday. I have a friend who teaches first grade and she was already scheduled to spend that day drilling the class in new security procedures. After this happened she kept looking at her little first graders and wondering if she could keep them safe, if she could be like the teacher who stepped in front of her class and got shot. Oh, the agony those people must be feeling! The adults and the kids. Like you, I don’t want to think about that. Thanks for letting me vent.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Vent away:) As a former teacher myself, I’ve played that scenario out in my mind – esp. after columbine (that happened when I was teaching). Would I have been one of the courageous ones that saved students or tackled the gunman or… did something besides hide? I don’t know but I hope so.

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Lisa December 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

The very small size of the box of Kelli’s ashes struck me as well. I expected it to be at least twice as big as it was. I wish we had kept her out of the ground like you did. That first winter..knowing she was out there was very difficult!

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Oh Lisa! I don’t know what to say other than to take comfort in that whatever decision you made was the best one you could have made at the time. Huge hugs to you, my friend!

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Sylvie @ StruggleswithaFatA December 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

((((HUGS)))) Adam has spent a lot of time crying for the poor little souls and families who have had to suffer from this man’s actions. He’s been squeeze hugging myself and our dog to bits over the weekend. As for me I cry and cry and cry. I like to talk and be hugged and find comfort in friends and those who love me. I think it’s because when I’m sad I feel so alone and need to be reminded that I’m not.

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Charlotte December 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

“I think it’s because when I’m sad I feel so alone and need to be reminded that I’m not.” Me too, Sylvie:) Big hugs to both you and Adam!

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Bek @ Crave December 19, 2012 at 1:02 am

This is so beautiful!

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