A volunteer team of grief and trauma experts from around the nation came together last weekend in Parkland, Florida. The Compassionate Friends was honored to be included in this event, “A Day of Hope and Healing” hosted by Bob Resciniti’s Healing Hearts Foundation. This was a first, to my knowledge, where planned support was offered at a reasonable period, 13 weeks, after a tragedy. We all bear witness from the news of how others swoop in to support those most directly impacted immediately after a tragedy. The families and community are offered dinners, counseling, security, memorials, candle light vigils, and a host of other meaningful, helpful gestures.

But then as we all know, time moves on. You and I know how our own families and friends hold us close immediately after our child, grandchild, brother, or sister’s death, until they must go on with their lives. As much as some would like to support and help us, they have their own family responsibilities and they often lack the knowledge on how to really help. As is natural, our friends and families continue with their unchanged lives. Then, there are also those who think we have had enough time and we should move on too.

This is where our individual, unchartered journey begins. I say unchartered as every grief journey is as unique as our own fingerprint. Even though you and I may both have lost a child, we do not grieve the same. We each encounter different obstacles along the way. We each have different areas we draw strength from. There is no one size fits all for the loss of a child, grandchild, or sibling.

In my own journey, I soon began to realize I could not navigate this alone. However, it was difficult to figure out what I needed to do. I read a lot and found lots of opinions and ideas but I was not connected to anyone. I went to several counselors. I went to our family doctor. I called my employee assistance program. I joined a couple of general grief groups. I searched and searched until one day a friend mentioned something called The Compassionate Friends. Finally, after becoming involved with TCF, I was connected with people that understood and got it.

The day in Parkland FL connected people. It was a day helping community members, students, school staff, and first responders. In a tragedy like Parkland, it is, of course, about the loss of life, but also much more. A community grieves the loss of feeling safe, the loss of trust in others, the loss of future dreams, the loss of innocence, the loss of faith, and unwillingly gains the knowledge that life will never be the same.

Mark and I talked to the group about grieving as a family. We told our story and how my son, my daughter, he, and I all grieved differently but the same. A little later, I sat with a family that lost a daughter in the shooting. They told me of their sweet daughter and we shared tears and hugs. I sat with their 12-year-old son as the police officer that cared for their daughter at the scene shared his story. They are now connected. The assistant principal provided me with her personal cell phone number to pass along to the Santa Fe staff. They are now connected.

The Compassionate Friends is planning a “Day of Hope and Healing” for Santa Fe. But you, my compassionate friend, have your own days of “Hope and Healing” just around the corner at the national conference, July 27 -29, 2018 in St. Louis MO. I hope you will consider attending and that you will connect with others who know your journey.

You too can connect with the Santa Fe community through our blog.

Tony’s Mom


Written in memory of all the victims of U.S. school shootings: Virginia Tech; Sandy Hook; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; UT Austin; Columbine High School; Santa Fe High School; Umpqua Community College; Red Lake; CSU Fullerton; Oikus University; Cleveland School; University of Iowa; West Nickel Mines School; Northern Illinois University; Santa Monica College; Westside Middle School; Marysville Pilchuck High School Lindhurst High School; University of Arizona Nursing School; Olean High School; Frontier Middle School; San Diego State University; Heath High School; Appalachian School Of Law; Louisiana Technical College; University of Alabama in Huntsville; Chardon High School; Central Michigan University

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