Saturday, December 15, 2012

in tragedy: remember the helpers

Sometimes I see the news and I just have to turn away. It's not callousness, though--it's self-preservation. I feel too much and then I can't function. Empathy is one of my greatest strengths, and one of my strongest weaknesses. So, yesterday, when a CNN news alert popped up on my phone informing me that there had been a shooting at at elementary school in Connecticut, I didn't flip to my browser and search for more information. I didn't turn on my television. I couldn't.

I took a shower. Got dressed. Went to the doctor. Ate lunch with my husband. Went to some stores. I pretended most of the day like nothing had happened, that it was a Friday like any other.

Then I went back home. 

Decided I could handle it. 

Looked up the news article.

Read it. 

Breathed deeper.

Watched the President's statement.

Bawled like a baby.

I'm not even a parent, but I work with kids everyday, and the grief was crushing. I just can't imagine. I don't have words. I have a master's degree in clinical psychology, but it didn't prepare me for things like this. I trained for years to understand people, motivations, and emotions....and I have nothing. My soul feels heavy. Things aren't supposed to be this way.

In most situations like this, quotes, soundbites, and sometimes even Bible verses rub me the wrong way; people throw them out like they're supposed to make everything okay, or somehow make sense of a situation that is simply senseless. There's nothing anyone can say that can make this situation right. There was one quote, though, that actually brought me a small bit of comfort. Maybe it's because I grew up watching Mr. Rogers, or maybe it's because he's telling a story rather than attempting to push solace on the inconsolable--either way, it helps me remember hope.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, 
my mother would say, 'Look for the helpers. 
You will always find people who are helping.' 
To this day, especially in times of disaster, 
I remember my mother’s words, 
I am always comforted by realizing 
that there are still so many helpers--
so many caring people in this world."

-Mr Rogers


  1. Well said, Jess. And, thank you to Mr. Rogers.

    1. He was a hero of mine as a child, and still is as an adult. So wise. I literally cried when he died; I can definitely say I've never cried about the death of a "celebrity" before or since. Grateful that his words are still around to bring comfort in times like these.


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