Words cannot express the sorrow of a nation that grieves the loss of innocent youth and those who gave their lives to protect them.  Emotions run deep; from confusion and sadness to anxiety and anger. In the wake of such trauma, it is our natural response to traumatic events, to try to make sense of what we experienced.  We search for meaning. Why would such a horrific event happen? What can we do to ensure the safety of our loved ones?

And, yet, we are likely to never understand why on December 14, 2012, a 20 year-old, heavily armed man opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing twenty children between the ages of 6 and 8 and six staff members, before turning a gun on himself.

Many have offered their thoughts on the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  Some have turned to their faith in G-d to lead the nation through this turbulent time, while others have turned to government to lobby for stronger gun control laws.  Whereas, others, still, focus on the need to fund our mental health delivery systems in order to better prevent such tragedy in the future.

Many of us, myself included, will send our children to elementary school tomorrow and will think for a moment, whereas we had not before, about the safety of our children as they board their buses.  We will bid them farewell, tell them we love them, and wish them a good day. We will also take joy in seeing them return, hugging them a bit tighter at the end of the day, in appreciation of what we have.

It can be challenging to process such events and address our emotional responses. As much as I would like to express my frustration for our undervalued, underfunded mental healthcare in this country, I will instead provide a list of good resources for your own healing so that we may move toward a better tomorrow:

1. Disaster Distress Helpline

2. Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting

3. A National Tragedy: Helping Chidren Cope – TIPS for PARENTS AND TEACHERS

4. Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

5. Five Questions on the Tucson, Ariz., Shootings for Psychologist Joel Dvoskin

6.  Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event – A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, AND TEACHERS

7. Psychological First Aid (PFA) for Students and Teachers: Listen, Protect, Connect – Model & Teach

8. Psychological First Aid for Teacher and Students

9. After a Loved One Dies – how children grieve and how parents and other adults can support them

10. School Crisis Guide: Help and Healing in a Time of Crisis

11. Practical Suggestions for Assisting Children in the Aftermath of a Tragedy

12. Teacher Guidelines for Crisis Response 

13. Parent Guidelines for Crisis Response 

14. How Do People Respond During Traumatic Exposure?

15. Helpful Information During and After a Traumatic Event 

My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to those affected by this tragedy.

Dr. Deibler

Photo available at 123RF