Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thursday's Therapy - After Newtown...What Grieving Parents Need

Thursday's Therapy

After Newtown...What Grieving Parents Need

Many people ask about what to say in light of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. Here are some thoughts that may help. We are holding all these families up in prayer- Glenda


This morning I watched the most glorious sunrise over the ocean.

The magnificence of God’s creation is hard to describe in words.

Even with all the beauty my heart is drawn to those grieving so intensely in Connecticut . There are not words to describe the pain that so many families feel this morning.

In silence I and probably you pray for them and wish that we could take their pain away. But we can’t.

In this moment words are inadequate to speak because they don’t have the power to change the reality of the devastation in the lives of these families.

Only God can comfort these aching hearts. He alone is the God of all comfort.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (2 Corinthians 1:3 KJV)

His Holy Spirit is able to comfort more completely and perfectly than we can. We must pray that in His way and power He will comfort all involved.

Perhaps our physical presence will be used in the lives of these families but it will be embracing arms and listening ears that are the biggest gifts to the grieving not words spoken.

If you find yourself in the presence of a grieving person give them the gift of your presence and don’t feel like you have to speak a word but just let them know you are sorry, you love them and most of all God loves them.

This is a good time to be speechless. Get comfortable with it!

~thanks to Glenda Parrish, co-author of


Top 10 gift ideas for a grieving person

1. A listening ear.. As stated (in the above article).

2. Prayer.

3. A note of encouragement with a sweet memory of their loved one.

4. A piece of jewelry with name of loved one.

5. Starbucks or appropriate gift card that will encourage an outing when they are ready.

6. A gift certificate for manicure or massage.

7. A journal.

8. Scripture cards.

9. For children stuffed animal that they can cuddle.

10. A book such as Finding Hope In Times of Grief but many can't really concentrate well for six months to a year.

~thanks to Glenda Parrish, co-author of 


After the tragic shooting in Newtown Connecticut last Friday, many have good reason to feel anguish, despair and misery.

These events touched many families personally. For those of us not directly affected, they can still leave us with feelings of horror and wanting to hold our loved ones near.

As a nation and as individuals, we could not possibly have anticipated or planned to have to deal with the emotional consequences of such an event. And yet here we are… many of us saddened, enraged and overwhelmed.

In the midst of tragedy and crisis, it can feel as if life is spinning out of control.  An event like this can remind us of devastating events from the past, which in turn can trigger thoughts and emotions connected to our own personal misfortunes and heartbreak.

We can’t change what has happened, but we can use a few strategies can help get through intense painful feelings and do what needs to be done in our daily lives.
  • Turn off the news. Give yourself permission to take a break from the images, thoughts and emotions related to this tragic event.  As with a car accident, when something terrifying or tragic occurs, we can feel compelled to watch and gather information about the event.  But it’s important to your emotional well-being to get a break from it.
  • Distract yourself. If you’re plagued by persistent thoughts or painful emotions, try engaging in physical or mental activities that take your mind off of it.  You might try things such as going to a movie, exercising, doing a puzzle or playing a video game.
  • Help others. One of the most effective ways to feel better is to help others.  Whether it’s volunteering for a charity, watching a neighbors pet or saying kind words to someone else, helping others can improve how you are feeling.
  • Do something opposite to how you’re feeling. You may be feeling angry, sad or depressed.  Don’t take lightly the impact a pleasant experience can have on your mood and emotions.  Some things you might try include watching a funny TV show, talking to a light-hearted friend or listening to comforting holiday songs or upbeat music.
  • Soothe yourself. Often when we’re in the midst of painful emotions we neglect to do the things that can make us feel calm and relaxed. You might try lighting a scented candle, baking cookies, wearing soft clothing, putting on a special scented lotion or looking at pictures of loved ones or special times.
When you have good reason to feel bad, it can be hard to regain your equilibrium and get through normal daily activities.  A few simple coping strategies can make a bigger difference than you might expect.

If feelings triggered by the tragic events in Newtown Connecticut are interfering with your ability to function, it’s essential that you employ strategies that will help you bear the moment and get through this difficult time.  These strategies or seeking help from a professional are important.


One of our necessary beliefs is that children are safe in school with their teachers. One of the reassurances we make to our little ones is that nothing bad will ever happen in Kindergarten.
Today a small community in Connecticut saw those beliefs shattered as eight adults and 20 children were violently killed.

What do you say when children are killed?
The most realistic answer, I have found is given by author, Charlie Walton, a father who himself lost his two sons in one night. What Charlie Walton urges friends, family and loved ones to understand is that when children die – there are no words.Words are insufficient to explain what has happened.
In his powerful little book When There are No Words: Finding Your Way to Cope with Loss and Grief, he clarifies that in the first hours and days of such loss, there is nothing he could say to himself and nothing that anyone else could say to him to make it right. There is nothing right about the death of children.

While the violent loss in Connecticut has broken hearts and stolen words  – it does not take away the connections and power of loved ones to ease and help contain pain. We have learned through trauma outreach that the most viable sources of response are the familiar networks of support.
  • The family, friends, and neighbors who just show up to take care of the daily needs of those grieving.
  • The parents whose bond to each other helps them walk together through this nightmare
  • The Moms and Dads who in holding their big and small children closer, with or without words, reduce the horror of what was experienced, witnessed or even seen on the media.
  • The Spiritual Caregivers whose presence affords a safe haven for many.
In this early stage of excruciating and bewildering loss – we know that a crucial step to easing pain and to feeling some emotional safety is to know you are not alone.

This is an unfathomable tragedy of loss by so many. A nation watches in tears. A nation hopes that the families feel their collective support.

1st two articles are from Finding Hope in Times of Grief

Third article:

Christy has worked in mental health since 1994, is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) and has extensive training in Mindfulness. She is an experienced group leader and trainer in both Mindfulness and DBT Skills Groups. Christy blogs regularly for Psych Central at Dialectical Behavior Therapy Understood.

Last article:

Suzanne B. Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist. She is Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Doctoral Program of Long Island University and on the faculty of the Post-Doctoral Programs of the Derner Institute of Adelphi University. Suzanne Phillips, PsyD and Dianne Kane are the authors of Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress. Learn more about their work at . Visit Suzanne's Facebook Page HERE.

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