By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
As my office and Facebook account fills up with talk of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut I can’t help but reflect on my own personal experiences with tragedy. I’ve sat three times with friends as they’ve gotten or have waited for days to get the news of their loved ones untimely deaths, one lost in the Virginia Tech Shootings, one lost to suicide, and one lost to horrifying workplace violence. It is tragic and horrifying on so many levels, but what gets me the most is the uncertainty. The pacing, the repeated unanswered phone calls, the fear that if you leave your phone or your home you might miss a call saying everything is fine, the silence, the not knowing what to do with yourself what so ever, the sounds of a voice mail system stating that “the mail box if full, Goodbye”. Goodbye… In tragedy that comes out of no where there is no goodbye. No final “I love you”. You simply just don’t know, sometimes for days, what has happen and this is the hardest part to me. It breaks your heart.
As friends and professionals in times like this you simply don’t know what to do. Deep down you often know that there will be no resolution, that this person is gone but you pray that they get happy news and you just can’t come to terms with telling what you feel. It is so strange to go through the motions in these circumstances, attempting to find humor, amusement, or conversation in such an uncomfortable time of uncertainty. There is nothing that can cut the tension in the air and I don’t really think any training can prepare you for such uncertainty. Crisis Intervention training only prepares you for the aftermath in my opinion…
I don’t know anyone affected by today’s shooting but I can imagine their current state of mind. I only hope that the staff, students, friends, and families of those at Sandy Hook can find relief and support quickly. Tragedies like this can foster change in loss, so let’s see what comes of this terrible terrible situation. Unfortunately, we might just see the same thing from this: the battle over gun control laws and the total ignorance of the underlying issues that drive people to violent actions. Let’s hope I’m not correct.
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