For a period of time, we forgot about online predators and scary people lurking around the mall, and instead re-evaluated that the one place where we send our kids to learn, socialize and grow up is not without risk.
That's no small achievement, even if it happens just some of the time. Looking back that may be one of the most satisfying ways by which you measure your life. In that spirit, let's take every opportunity to support others in savoring this holiday.
Reassurance is what a child needs during this time. Reassurance that Mommy and Daddy aren't leaving them. Reassurance that law enforcement is doing everything to prevent similar crimes, and reassurance that there are more good people in the world than evil.
At this point, any comment on the psychiatric profile of Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old man responsible for these murders, is complete hearsay. By themselves, these traits do not indicate any diagnosis at all, although we have been quick to dissect them in the search for meaning.
Without doubt, parents, teachers, neighbors, first responders and all of the bereaved are likely already dealing with acute sleep disorders, including insomnia, as the shock of the event fades into insurmountable grief.
Our culture, in which the draw of violence is turbo-charged, glamorized and commercialized, clearly plays a pivotal role in the psychological problems of an alarmingly growing number of young men who commit wanton murder.
We don't necessarily "recover." We may never "get over it." Instead, we may wrap ourselves in the wisdom gained from loss. We may learn that life means even more to us than we realized before our loved one was taken away.
The research for the film began to have an effect on me. Pretty soon, I found myself having trouble falling asleep. As I replayed certain events that had been revealed to me over and over in my head, I began to see images from my own childhood.
On a recent Friday, a psychiatrist and a team of medical students traveled to the Far Rockaways in Queens to provide mental health assistance to survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Their work did not involve psychotherapy or diagnoses, but rather tending to the immediate needs of survivors.
How we experience the circumstances of our lives often determines whether or not we find them traumatizing. The presence of caring adults who help children to decode the ever-unfolding situations of their worlds is a great protective buffer for the child.
While the larger agencies provide emergency provisions in the immediate aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, few groups provide emotional support beyond palliative approaches, quiet counseling and minimally expressive therapies that are primarily cognitive in nature.
Perhaps the greatest lesson we have learned from natural and human-made disasters is how resilient most people can be. But one should not go it alone in the face of disaster, whether an individual, community, city or nation.
There are a wide variety of actions people can take to help themselves, their loved ones, and their children deal with trauma brought on by a natural disaster. First and foremost is not going through the experience alone.