No Easy Tips to Cope with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

There are no easy tips for coping with the tragedy

of the loss the families in Sandy Hook, Connecticut are experiencing.


It is normal to feel a lot of strong emotions:

grief, anger, helplessness, loss, guilt.

To feel strong emotion is to be normal.

The northeast United States hasn’t recovered from the massive destruction of Hurricane Sandy. And yet another event brings epic grief to our area and our country.


There are no easy fixes for all of these normal feelings, as there are many levels to this tragedy, both the personal and the societal.


Labeling and sorting through your feelings is a complex coping mechanism, not an easy fix.


Empathic levels: The intimate level of loss and the horrific thoughts and images of small children so tragically killed, are difficult to move away from consciousness. The empathic grief we all feel for the mothers and fathers and families of these children seems bottomless.


Yet, if you feel this empathy, it is normal.

Your feelings are normal.

Personal losses: Our own personal deep losses are triggered by the sadness we feel for others. It is normal for your own grief and frustrations to well up while feeling for others.

And yet, if your own losses are felt more keenly, this is normal.


Societal levels:Another level is the on-going gun laws debate. For those of us who wish for change in the gun laws, and believe the easy availability of guns makes these types of tragedies inevitable, there is the added layer of helplessness and anger at the NRA backed system. Read the statistics on guns & the US in ABC’s Bill Weir’s blog here.  Read Lisa Belkin’s Huffington Post blog about gun control


And if you feel this helplessness and anger, it is normal.


Societal levels: Another area where many of us have  on-going anxieties are about the explicit violence pushed on all of us in this culture via video games and pop culture. This month Ohio State University researchers published research showing that playing violent video games increased aggressive behaviors. The researchers compared playing violent video games to smoking cigarettes, where effects are cumulative over time. It is confusing as to how an individual can make changes to this; and it is difficult to keep sticking our heads in the sand.

 And we can feel guilty over not acting.

It is normal to feel guilty and feel a partial responsibility for the climate of our violent culture.

Mental health care: The general feeling that mental health is an after-thought in our healthcare system. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey does not pay mental health providers a living wage. Electricity, gasoline, everything increases, yet mental health providers saw a decrease in payouts in the fall of 2011. Read this article from the the mother of a mentally ill child.

Societal levels: Making a positive impact: Many of us think and feel we are part of a larger community, and we live and work to be the change in the world. Many of us aspire to live to leave a positive footprint. And when tragedy hits, we are overcome with despair about how evil man can be.

And yet, it is normal to feel the despair that our contribution is not enough to stem the tide of tragedy.

Strong feelings are normal.

And if you are feeling overwhelming sadness, hopelessness, responsibility, despair, your emotional and mental health is important.

  • Take a break from the pain. Go back to your regular activities. Seek community: Go to your place of worship to grieve with others
  • Seek local professional counseling
  • If you need immediate assistance, call a manned hotline

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7 Responses to “No Easy Tips to Cope with the Sandy Hook Tragedy”

  • Rachelle Norman:

    Helpless. That’s the primary emotion I’m feeling now, especially with the flurry of arguments among my friends and colleagues on Facebook about gun control and mental health treatment.

    Thank you for acknowledging that there are no easy answers.
    Rachelle Norman recently posted..Sense-ational Christmas OrnamentsMy Profile

  • As senseless and horrific is this tragedy, I feel that people are finally ready to do something to effect positive change. In the U.S. this year alone, we’ve had 6 massive shootouts which resulted in 59 deaths…

    I agree that there’s no easy nor readily available solution, but at the end of the day we have action as our guide. Prayer will always be helpful, but action and committed steps to making access to mental health care, and gun control priorities will bring change.

    It’s time to take a stand against violence.
    linda esposito recently posted..All I Want for Christmas Is…Gun Control and Mental Health CareMy Profile

  • Hi Linda – I agree, it’s time to take a stand against violence, this should not be a normal occurrence in the US.
    Kathy Morelli recently posted..No Easy Tips to Cope with the Sandy Hook TragedyMy Profile

  • Kathy,

    You provide some important reminders about how normal it is to respond strongly to tragedy. I don’t ever want to lose my ability to be moved to grief and action.

    Ann Becker-Schutte recently posted..Tips for Self-Care in the Face of TragedyMy Profile

  • Kathy,
    Thanks so much for writing this so promptly. It’s really helpful to normalize the strong feelings and the ways they can bring up related personal tragedies. I also appreciate your points about what we might do. And I would add concerns about access to mental health care.
    Carolyn Stone recently posted..Enforcing the Rules Leads to Better Behavior (There’s more to it than that!)My Profile

    • Hi Carolyn –
      I was very moved and very angry about this event. There are many statistics that support reasonable gun control measures and the narcisstic NRA lobby fights making our society safer every step of the way and the care for mental health has been rolled back to a laughable measure.
      Tired of the bs, Kathy

  • I like that you point out the different factors playing in and that strong emotions is normal. Thank you kathy!
    Let’s hope that we can increase social consciousness for all people in the world, give people the help they need (without calling it socialism), give mental help a higher status, make it affordable (free!) and pay living wages to people that are working in mental health and other fields that help others, and finally change the gun laws so it gets harder to kill others because of strong emotions and a gun available.
    irenesavarese recently posted..How Couples Should Behave On Social Media Sites.My Profile

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