Sometimes I let distant tragedy wash over me, not allowing it to enter my heart. The shootings in Connecticut have stayed with me all weekend, though. I read bios of the children, and I wept, thinking of the things left unsaid. What is there to say after “he loved soccer?” Those words don’t really capture the way you sit on the sidelines, setting the camera aside as you just watch your child run. “She loved the color purple” is very different than that little girl who insists she must wear purple, and only that, from socks to hair bow.

Which is why I find myself without words, in the face of this depth of pain. I have a six-year-old boy. He has a gap-toothed smile and an impish sense of humor. He is sweet and wild. He loves Harry Potter and Legos. Those words don’t begin to tell who he is, or how we would feel if we lost him. I hope that those families have felt something of the collective mourning, of the prayers offered on their behalf. I hope that somewhere there are words that bring them peace.

Here are some people who have been better at speaking than me:

“In the Loop,” by Bill Hicok, written after the Virginia Tech shootings (h/t Angela Hallstrom) Must read.

“Theodicy” (for Connecticutt), a poem by Jonathon Penny. Loved this one. (h/t Segullah on Facebook)

Portraits of the victims. These were hard for me to read, and part of me wonders if they should have stayed private. But they have added intensity to my prayers for the families of these children. And teachers.

This talk, by Elder Holland, about finding peace amid tragedy at Christmas. (h/t friend Lindsy)

Tell me about the words that bring you comfort. (feel free to add links, please…)

Edit to add links from the comments:
where is God when bad things happen
BCC’s wisdom
Michelle L.


  1. mormonhermitmom

    December 17, 2012

    It does hit close to home when you have a child that age. My youngest is in first grade as well. And besides that, my aunt graduated with two women who are grandmothers to one of the girls involved. Just too close for comfort.

    I’m trying to be extra patient with all my kids and make sure they know I love them and God loves them too.

  2. Kerri

    December 18, 2012

    Oh, that Elder Holland talk is magnificent: “Temporary separation at death and the other difficulties that attend us as we all move toward that end are part of the price we pay for love in this world…You can’t separate Bethlehem from Gethsemane, or the hasty flight into Egypt from the slow journey to the summit of Calvary. It is of one piece. It is a single plan. It considers the fall and rising again of many in Israel, but always in that order. Christmas is joyful not because it is a season or decade or lifetime without pain or privation, but precisely because life does hold those moments for us.”

    Thank you for giving us these links. I am grateful.

    I also liked this blog post from Ann Voskamp:

  3. Kerri

    December 18, 2012

    Oh, and this: (not words of comfort, exactly, but powerful words)

  4. Michelle

    December 18, 2012

    I appreciated Michelle L.’s post.

    Thanks for this list of links, Emily.

  5. Barb

    December 18, 2012

    the collective many who care is a comfort

  6. Emily M.

    December 18, 2012

    Thanks for the links–I have updated the original post and added them. I agree that the “collective many who care” is indeed a comfort.

  7. Sage

    December 20, 2012

    This has been such a hard week. I attend church in Newtown. Alissa Parker, mother of shooting victim Emilie, is my visiting teachee’s cousin. My neighor, friend and plumber lost his brother’s sister-in-law, one of the six adult victims, Annie Murphy.

    When we heard it was Newtown we were stunned and I prayed it wouldn’t affect anyone we knew directly. But it has affected everyone deeply.

    We had tickets to see the Hobbit Friday night. Instead we went to the prayer meeting in our building and received words of comfort from our Stake president, our Area authority and from Emilie Parker’s father, Robbie. His courage to speak on such a day was inspiring.

    I have a six year old daughter too. She went to primary for a few months with Emilie before they found a house in the other ward. I have found myself crying about this at least once a day.

    Yet through it all my faith in Christ and in the plan of happiness ultimately buoys me up and allows me to continue my Christmas preparations.

    Thanks for the links. I will be reading them.

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