Coping with Tragedies

There’s one notion that I can’t seem to let go unchecked… it’s been weighing on my mind so heavily for the last few days. This is the notion that we can be shamed into not talking about the tragedies that happen in our communities, our neighboring communities, our “grandmother’s best friend’s mom’s community.”

In the wake of what is happening across our nation, in our schools, and within our kids’ minds and hearts, we cannot be afraid to speak up or ask questions. On Valentine’s Day, we all learned of the tragic event that took place in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Growing up in south Florida — although never attending this particular high school — it hit close to home. Parkland is a small, beautiful and affluent community. I have several friends that have attended this high school. So, reality set in that this tragic event can happen any where and at any time and to anyone. Being a mother of two school-aged girls (8 and nearly 9.5 years old), this was a scary feeling. I had lots of questions: Why? How did this happen? Like… How was he allowed on campus when he is no longer a student? How did he get an AR-15 into the school without anyone noticing? Why hadn’t anyone voiced serious concerns when he posted such things on social media? How do you prepare children — especially young, innocent-minded children — for something so violent? How do you even begin to have such a heart-wrenching conversation?

Mulling over all of these questions and reading the Facebook posts of some of my south Florida friends and families, I came across a few seemingly shaming posts about how we shouldn’t make this event about ourselves, or how everyone “is trying to find some connection to this shooting.”

Listen up, the problem sits right here in those very statements. We are being shamed out of talking about difficult topics. We are being told that we can’t relate to this event — or feel deep sorrow and compassion about what took place in our own communities. Hell, I even saw a comment linking this to mental illness and assigning judgement to it. The mere fact that we are shaming people about mental illness or ascribing judgement to individuals who suffer from mental illness, in my opinion, should be a sign of mental instability — or at the very least fear or ignorance about it. There have also been several articles, social media posts, and comments laying blame to a political party because of access to guns. At this point, it’s beyond political. It’s personal. My readers: the next victim — or suspect — could be your child, your niece, or your best friend’s son. It could be your childhood teacher.

I think as individuals and parents it’s our job to ask these questions, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It absolutely is our business and we should make this about ourselves and our own children or else we will be facing the same horrifying events as other parts of the country. Don’t let others silence you or shame you into speaking out and asking questions. Ask all the questions. Get involved. Talk to your kids. Talk to your child’s school administrator. Ask how this happened and how can we prevent it from happening again. A 19 year old walked into a school he wasn’t attending, with an assault rifle, without being detected. He took 17 lives. He crushed the hearts and souls of parents across the world. Let’s ask the questions.

My heart goes out to the families that were affected. ❤

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