It’s Saturday morning and I still can’t comprehend what happened yesterday. I had been with my client and her 5 year old son that morning. Around 9:30 AM I was talking to the 5 year old telling him what a good boy he was for putting on his seatbelt. During the car ride he was talking about spiderman and other superheroes in between saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” when he wanted his mother’s attention. Five year olds are so innocent and so eager to show you what they have discovered and their eyes are wide open to the world around them. I absolutely love and adore children so I had fun talking to him during the car ride.
I didn’t learn about the tragic events that had unfolded earlier that morning (around the same time I was with my client and her son) until about 12:30 PM through breaking news on the radio. I had an extremely busy day that I didn’t have time for lunch, much less have time to listen to the talk show I usually listen to. When I did hear the news, the news outlets were sketchy, they had a name, not sure how many were killed and I didn’t know the age of the children at that time. I just know the more I heard about it, the sadder my heart felt until I was driving with tears at the verge of overflowing. Events like this really hits us all very hard.
I know that as a young child and in later years, I have experienced and seen things that have not been good. Luckily, with a strong mother, friends and my faith, I’ve grown up to be a pretty good citizen of the world. It is possible for people to come out of a traumatic experience and not be involved with drugs, medications, alcoholism or other things. But the love and care has to start immediately for anyone involved in order for it to have effect for their future. I’m talking about the children (who survived) and their parents. The parents of the children who did survive will encounter “survivor’s guilt” and will need counseling. The parents of the children who were killed will need counseling for years to come. Waking up after hearing that their child was killed is probably the worst day for them because after they wake up, they realize the nightmare was true. The feelings come back if not harder because reality has sunk in and the heart is so heavy with grief. I can’t imagine the grief those parents feel, but I sympathize with them as I know the rest of the nation does. I know the School District will do all they can to help everyone there.
I’m a certified American Red Cross Psychological First Aid responder and we are trained to deal with exactly this type of thing. We are trained to be able to talk to 2 year olds all the up to the elderly after a tragic event. During training, it was very difficult because we were taught to break down ourselves and go deep into dark time of our lives where we felt helpless. Once we hit that point during training, they taught us how to reassure and connect back to overcoming it. After that, we continue on helping each other in mock interviews to teach us exactly how to interact and talk to people who just experienced a traumatic event in real life.
This is volunteer work and to be able to do this kind of job, you definitely need to be strong mentally and be emotionally balanced. No one needs a stressed out counselor or first responder; the immediate needs of the parents and the local community has to be met first. After the day is done, the counselors need time to take care of themselves to begin another day of helping the people.
When someone goes through something as horrible as these parents did, there are no words that can heal them right away. Sometimes just sitting next to them is all they need at the moment; knowing your presence right beside them is comfort enough.
My heart just breaks more each time I hear more stories coming out of the news. My only hope is that these young children don’t grow up bitter or get involved in unnecessary things to “hide the memory” of what they saw or heard yesterday. I’m glad to hear that the teachers told the children to close their eyes when passing the victims because what they might have seen as a child would have stuck in their minds for the rest of their lives as a memory. Even hearing fireworks during New Years Eve and 4th of July will give the parents and children “flashbacks” because the memories will still be fresh. My thoughts and prayers are with all the parents today and especially this Christmas without their little ones.
Such a sad day for all of us.
Photo credit: Euronews