I was about to lead a teleclass in two minutes, when the phone rang.
I could tell by the tone of his voice that something awful had happened.
His name was Dan. He asked if we had a puppy named Bezoar, and after confirming that we did, his voice broke when he confessed that he had just accidentally killed her with his car. He was sitting by the side of the road right behind my house, holding her, waiting for me to come get her.
I bailed on the teleclass, and, heart racing and body shaking, dashed out to Highway 1 to wrap my arms around the 6 month old puppy who just joined the family in July, shortly after our beloved Grendel died prematurely in June.
We are all grieving after the shootings in Connecticut, and when we’re grieving, the last things we need are platitudes, blame, or fearful communication. So please, when someone expresses despair over the children that were slaughtered in Newton, please don’t say these 6 things.
1. “It was God’s will.”
We can’t possibly know God’s will, but personally, I don’t believe God wills tragedy on innocent people. I also don’t believe God groomed some mass murderer to grow up and exterminate 26 people and then kill himself. While it might placate us to believe that this tragedy was some sort of predestined divine event, I think it’s more healing to just accept that sometimes tragedies occur - and we really have no idea why.
2. “At least it wasn’t my child’s school.”
Yes. For those of us whose children were not harmed, we can be grateful. But when hatred is spread among any of us, it affects us all. You can feel it in the bones of our country right now. When one of our children is killed, the shockwaves reverberate through us all. At the root of such tragedy lies a deep disconnection from Source. That any of us are so disconnected from the part of ourselves I call your “Inner Pilot Light” that such murder could happen is a sign that something is out of whack in our culture. It might not have been your local school, but the disease that plagued Newtown, Connecticut has the potential to affect any one of us, and not until we heal the spiritual disconnection that infects so many in our society will our communities be safe.
When my beloved eight year old Bichon Frise pup Grendel died unexpectedly, my heart was broken. I cried almost all day, every day, for over a week, feeling as if the pain would never end. I woke up in the middle of the night with my pillow wet with tears. I prayed the whole thing was a nightmare. I wished I could turn back time, if only for a few minutes, so I could hold Grendel just a few more moments, treasure her just a little while longer. When you’re rolling in grief, you wonder if you’ll ever come out the other side. The pain is visceral. The void is palpable. It hurts so much you pray you’ll never have to feel it again. In fact, you feel like you’d do almost anything to avoid such abject misery.
But as I told Siena when she was mourning her friend Vivien, who had to return to Chicago after an extended visit, and as I warned her when she took in two baby rat-coons who died soon after, when we fall in love - whether it’s with pets, parents, lovers, or dear friends - we must give those we love permission to break our hearts. Otherwise, we can’t really fully experience the gifts of love and life.