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Uvalde - Our Shattered Hearts a Month Later

child loss grief mass shooting Jun 21, 2022
child and adult reaching for each other separted by grief

Content Warning: Mass shootings. Child loss.

By Ilana Shapiro Yahdav & Kim Hanlon

We are one month out from the Uvalde mass shooting, and while this horrible atrocity is no longer all over the news, it still permeates the minds and hearts of every single person involved both directly and indirectly. It continues to sting our hearts deeply, as it should.

It is very important that we point out the myths around grief and time. People will say time heals all wounds, and then they will also tell a parent that there is no recovery from the death of a child. Both of these are not correct.

Myth: Time Heals all wounds. Fact: It is not the time that heals, but the actions taken during that time.

Firstly, the loved ones of those victims are all still reeling from this loss and will be for a long time. The pain of having a child murdered is indescribable. One month, four weeks, what is it in comparison to a lifetime of love as well as hopes and dreams one had for the future? 

And how does it feel for the parents of Sandy Hook victims, to see this play out again and again? How does it feel for all the parents of the other 26 school shootings that have happened so far in America in 2022 alone?

This is a complicated issue as are the debates around gun reform and preventing mass shootings. (NOTE: this is NOT an invitation for a political debate - we are speaking to grief ONLY).

Just as time itself will not solve the problem of mass shootings, time itself does very little to heal a broken heart.

It is what one does in that time that heals. It is the actions one takes, the choices one makes to lean into the discomfort and find support to move through grief. And it is also in understanding the issue more holistically. 

Grief is widely misunderstood with respect to how it shows up, how one heals, and even what it is. 

The Uvalde community and all others impacted by this shooting are grieving the loss of their loved ones, and so much more.

They are grieving no longer being able to tuck their kids into bed or pick them up from school.

They may also be grieving a profound loss of safety, loss of trust in the police, the trauma of hearing screams and not knowing how to respond, the missed milestones, and the changes in the community and family dynamic as a result of these deaths.

They may be feeling grateful that other kids survived AND wishing that their child survived as well (or instead), and berating themselves for such thoughts.

They may be grieving the feeling of having national attention and yet feeling so isolated at the same time in one’s individual grief. 

Those who survived may feel overlooked as they are not getting the same attention as the children and teachers who died. They may feel that they are not allowed to feel traumatized and need to focus on feeling gratitude that they survived. 

And other parents and teachers are grieving once again the shaken trust that schools are a safe place to send children.

Grieving hearts can feel even heavier when it feels as if the world is starting to move on, a new tragedy filling the headlines. We want so much for our loved ones to never be forgotten, for their names and stories to be told on and on. When grievers don’t feel seen or heard, it makes it even more difficult to grieve and process the pain. 

It will take support in learning what is incomplete for them in their grief, and finding ways to validate and express that grief so they can feel hope amongst their heartbreak. 

There is no time limit on grief. There is no magic time period before the pain goes away. However, there are actions that one can take to process and work through the grief. 

Myth: You never recover from a loss. Fact: It is possible with the right steps and support.

This brings us to our second myth, that you will never recover from a loss, especially that of a child. Recovery does not mean that you will never feel grief again or miss what could have been different, better, or more. It does not mean that you are moving on, forgetting, or replacing. No. 

What it does mean, however, is building awareness of the areas in your life that you have been emotionally stuck in and being able to release the pain of the unmet hopes, dreams, and expectations. It means being able to improve accessibility to your past memories and integrate them into your future. 

We never “get over” loss.

We never “move on”, but we are able to learn how to regain the joy in our lives while keeping our deceased loved ones alive in our hearts. 

One blog post is never going to do this topic justice. One blog post will never be able to honor the lives lost or the grief for them. We recognize this but would be remiss to not try to at least start to scratch the surface in cultivating dialogue and providing grief resources.

This post was really hard to write. We imagine it’s difficult to read too. We’re both holding back tears and remembering to breathe as we write. We encourage you to take a minute. Breathe into the feelings - whatever they may be. No judgment. No critiques. 

Grieving is a non-linear process that has no one-size-fits-all solution. There are no set time periods. There is no ‘one’ correct way. 

However, we do have some gentle suggestions that can help start to work through your grief.

  • Don’t rush yourself or “should” yourself. There is no way you ‘should’ feel. How you feel is how you feel.
  • Cultivate awareness around all your emotions, no matter what they are.
  • Exercise self-compassion for whatever feelings are coming up for you. 
  • Listen to a meditation. We love the Loving-Kindness Meditation.
  • Seek professional support. One of the most courageous actions you can take for yourself is asking for and getting support for yourself when you need it.

May the memories of the Uvalde victims be a blessing. 


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