Monday, December 17, 2012

A dad’s experience in overcoming grief: Any lessons for parents and survivors of Connecticut school shooting?

It has been a terrible weekend for parents of young children and everyone who continues to come to grips with the terrible tragedy in Connecticut.
While nation continues to mourn the senseless loss of young lives, parents of the twenty young children continue the struggle to cope.
There seems to be a tremendous amount of public spotlight on the tragedy and outpouring of support at local and national level. Resources are being provided to ensure parents and other kids who survived the tragedy are able to cope. However, the media spotlight will soon fade and the fact is each of the parents will try and cope with grief in their own personal way.
Fathers, mothers and siblings will try and search for answers and find closure.
This weekend, I was reflecting on this tragedy briefly and also on how my wife and I tried to move ahead after we lost our infant son in an untimely manner. Parents may find other avenues to cope with the grief. A few articles from media:
  • Support groups: Psychologists Jeff Gardere and Peggy Norwood joined HuffPost Live hosts Marc Lamont Hill and Abby Huntsman to discuss how those affected by Friday's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning can begin coping with the tragedy. Gardere said that parents of children at the school need to use each other for support. 
  • CNN Blogs: How parents can cope with fear? While the nation processes the horror and fights for change to help prevent anything like this happening ever again, we also need to find ways to handle the rush of emotions we’re feeling. How do you send your kids off to school and do your best to know they’ll be safe? For some answers, I spoke with clinical psychologist Paula Bloom.
  • Dad speaks out after daughter slain at school : A father who lost his six-year-old daughter in the Connecticut school shooting broke down in tears, remembering her.
For me, writing about my experience was cathartic (ref book “a child lost in flight”).
From Los Angeles Times: It may not be possible to understand a tragedy like the shooting Friday in Newton, Conn., but parents can help their children cope with the fear and insecurity.
A number of resources are available.
Talking with Children about School Violence: Advice from the Lucy Daniels Center in North Carolina and tailored for children 11 years old or younger.
Talking to Kids about School Safety: Mental Health America also offers suggestions, along with a list of signs that indicate a child may need help.
Caring for Kids After Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals: A report published by The New York Child Study Center (PDF).
Stopping School Violence: From The National Crime Prevention Council (PDF).
"Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers”: From the National Association of School Psychologists (PDF).
Talking to Children about Community Violence: advice from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
National Institute of Mental Health: A free booklet that describes what parents can do to help children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters.
PBS Parents: Tools for talking with kids of all ages about these difficult stories.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network: More tools for parents in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
Helping Children Regain Their Emotional Safety After a Tragedy: A guide produced by Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International.

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