How does a parent ever recover from a tragedy as heartbreaking as the murder of twenty-six first-graders and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary? On this one-year anniversary, I’m heartened by the determination from many of the mothers and fathers that “this is not the end of the story.” On Scott Simon’s NPR Morning Edition this December 14, they included a compelling interview with Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of six-year-old Ana Grace who was killed. As a therapist who counsels mentally ill and troubled young people, she talked of three attitudes and actions that have shaped her days even when “most days, it feels like I’m hanging off the edge of a cliff.”
A GRIEVING MOTHER’S WISDOM FOR HEALING:
1) Making a choice on where to focus memory.
She’s very aware that one doesn’t always choose our circumstances, but we have choices on our responses.
She describes how “I’ve made it my business” to stay focused on good days with Ana, to keep her spirit alive. Rather than reliving December 14, she loves remembering the day before, on December 13, when their busy family suddenly dropped everything to go out together for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. She’s forever grateful for this time of lots of laughter,enjoyment of one another, and snapping of photographs. It was their last dinner together as a family of four.
2) Living with an expanded heart. During the December 2 conference of the Ana Grace Project, 500 people gathered for their family’s effort to build community, connection, and compassion. “A moment came when we wondered if we should create a table with 28 candles instead of 26, to include both Adam and his mother who also died that day. We put 28, a gesture of compassion.”
3) Acting on creative ways to honor Ana Grace. Their family motto is Love Wins and Ana’s father, Jimmy, is a musician and friend of Harry Connick, Jr. so they’ve composed a song called Love Wins now available on You Tube.
Click this link to a beautiful full interview of a Generous Spirited Newtown Mother who seeks to make meaning from such heart devastation. I found her expanded story immensely inspiring. I think you might too.
OTHER EFFORTS FOR TRANSFORMATION
Even during their first year of acute raw grief, many are demonstrating the empowering characteristics of compassion, strength, intention, and resolve that mark their community.
As grieving parents, they banded together and formed the Sandy Hook Promise, going on the road to lobby for “common sense solutions to gun violence. When lawmakers failed to pass legislation in April, father Mark Barden expressed the sentiment of many. “We are disappointed, but not defeated.” Many saw this as “round one” in their fight for reform, equating the challenges of changing America’s gun violence as a marathon, not a sprint.
Now they have launched a grassroots campaign called Parents Together, emphasizing mental wellness, connection to community and gun safety. With a new strategy, and proven tools and programs to help local communities, they believe that parents’ common love for children can overcome national political paralysis. They are determined that Sandy Hook will be remembered as a place where real and lasting transformation to prevent gun violence in America began.
This is their solace and their hope, and a force towards their healing. Such courage and determined actions give hope and solace to our nation too.