Home » Blogs » Leveraging Adversity » A Letter to the Victims and Families of the Florida Massacre

A Letter to the Victims and Families of the Florida Massacre

compassion photo

First, let me say that I am deeply, deeply sorry for your losses.

Second, let me say that no apology, sentiment, or action could ever possibly be commensurate with what you have endured, and continue to.

Yet I am hoping that the following thoughts will be helpful in some way:

Your losses have now become public, which was never your choice. Unfortunately, that is the way the media in this country work. The goal of the media may be to share information, but the larger, and more insidious goal is to share information that sells. It is unfair, but mass murders sell. What you may watch on television, hear on the radio, or read in the news (or on the internet), may not approximate your truth and your reality. Do your best not to expose yourself to it.

Your grief may not go in stages. It may not go in procedural steps. It may not go as prescribed. In fact, it may follow no pattern at all. There is no road map for grief. Do not let anyone tell you how you should feel, think, or act. Simply do what you need to do in each moment to make it to the next one.

It is highly unlikely that most people (even those close to you) will understand what you are feeling. What has happened to you is of the magnitude we have never seen before, and it would be presumptuous for any of us to consider for one second that we could comprehend your reality at this time. With that said, those around you may say or do things that seem incredibly insincere, thoughtless, and unsympathetic. Know that the company you keep is your choice.

Your life has changed in ways that no one could have predicted. What were once certainties, probably feel like nothing more than fleeting memories. Yes, the world used to feel reasonably safe to you. Yes, you never imagined terrorism striking so close to home. Yes, you trusted the places you went, the people you knew, and the world you live in.

Now, nothing feels sure. Yet, there is no instruction manual for how you should proceed. While the people who did this to you can imagine the atrocities they commit, there is no way to imagine how to cope when the reality you depended on, and lived your life by, has been viciously ripped from you. What you do, how you choose to live your life from this point forward, therefore, needs to fit no convention other than your own.

Lastly, the media will likely approach you to ask for your story. Reporters and producers may offer condolences, sympathy, and even support for you. You are under no obligation to speak with them. Your story is just that, your story. Once you share it with the media, however, it is no longer your story. It becomes their story. If you do speak with the media, choose your words wisely.

Standing in deepest sympathy for you,

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT



Claire Dorotik-Nana is the author of Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards. For more information on Claire or her work, visit

Photo by h.koppdelaney

A Letter to the Victims and Families of the Florida Massacre

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2016). A Letter to the Victims and Families of the Florida Massacre. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Jun 2016
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.