an attempt to put words on the heartbreak

I wasn’t planning to write anything in response to the horrific tragedy in Connecticut mainly because I didn’t know what to possibly say. Words don’t come fast for me, especially not at times like this. Though everyone carries the weight of grief very differently, it seems like we all know at least this – there are no words. 

Walking under a great cloud of sadness this weekend, I read this quote from an art teacher named Donna who works at a school nearby Sandy Hook Elementary.

“I don’t know if the rest of the country is struggling to understand it the same way we are here,” she said. “Life goes on, but you’re not the same. Is the rest of the country — are they going about their regular activities? Is it just another news story to them?” source

Even though there is nothing to say, after reading her words, I felt compelled to take my nothing and say it out loud, if for no other reason than to pay my respect.

Donna, I speak for me and my husband, a mom and dad living in North Carolina. Through my small words, we extend our hands and hearts to you, to your community, your teachers, your parents, and your children – this is not just another news story to us. 

Though we can’t possibly know what your community is going through, we imagine how horrific it must feel. And our imaginations are heavy with sorrow, though we all might show that very differently.

I watch my three elementary school aged children, two third graders and a kindergartener. Seeing pictures of Sandy Hook, I am struck by how much the school looks like ours.

I light four candles on my table and try to avoid the news.

I pray for the community of Newtown and remember that we are all still waiting for home.

I haven’t really said anything here. But I couldn’t continue to write until I spent a little time searching for words to put on the heartbreak, no matter how inadequate they are.

Words from The Jesus Storybook Bible from Luke 2:

They knelt on the dirt floor. They had heard about this Promised Child and now he was here. Heaven’s Son. The Maker of the Stars. A baby sleeping in his mother’s arms. This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to light up the whole world.

Chasing away darkness. Helping people to see.

And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.

Read from women (and one man) who have more words than I do:

Newtown As I Know It by Jamie Martin who loves and lives there

God Can’t Be Kept Out by Rachel Held Evans

Beautiful Grief by Shannan Martin

“Friday we cried again…” by my Dad


  1. says

    There are no words and too many words….but a collective grief we share, we bear.

    I look at my children with deeper gratitude. There’s an urgency in my every “I love you.”

    I go to sleep thinking about Sandy Hook and the gaping hole ripped through her heart and I’m awaking to similar thoughts. Praying without ceasing comes easily when they’re always on my mind.

    I hear you from the inside out….


  2. says

    Us, too, Emily. Us, too. I’ve been weepy all weekend. It’s not just another news story. I dropped my kindergartener off at school this morning and swallowed a rock into my stomach. God keep us all.

  3. says

    Life will never go on quit the same. A bit of innocence has been stolen from all of us. But, we must put one foot in front of the other because we have to and our lives are a blessing. Lovely words today….Thank you.

  4. says

    Thank you for speaking up. And to Donna, it is not another news story to us either. Please know we are all praying for your community and for every single person impacted by this tragedy.

  5. says

    I agree with Michelle that it feels like 9/11 a little. I think because it cuts deeply into our safety. I am a school counselor, so to me, these are some of my people. I am just broken hearted.

  6. says

    I understand where Donna is coming from, as I sat here today at work, scrolling through various articles and new stories wondering, ” Does life just go on?”

    Of course, in some senses, it must.

    But I am in Canada, and countless people in my community, my province and across Canada have been touched and absolutely tormented by the thought of what has happened in Newtown and the grief and pain that is STILL happening there.

    I chose not to blog about it, because I have no words, but yes…I believe in some ways, the entire continent has stood still in sorrow for the families of Newtown. It is not just a news story, it is a horrific event that has people hugging their children closer and wishing that the parents of the 27 lost in Newtown could be doing the same.

  7. Jacki Brown says

    This is not another news story at all, but tragic news that has ripped open my heart , as well as this nation. I am still unable to breath deeply or go a day without crying for these lost children and teachers and the tragedy and scars that will always be there. I am fervently praying for everyone there and for some understanding or comfort. I agree with the above writer that this feels like 9/11. It does for me too. although it may feel like you are alone, know that an entire nation grieves with you . At least this mother of 4 from NC.

  8. Carol says

    We all have thoughts, or words, or groans … I think youncaptured our inability to speak our hearts, but in a brief attempt we seek to support this community ~ a fellowship of sorrow…

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