The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, has shocked the conscience of the nation. It is hard for most people to understand why an individual would gun down small children in such a brazen fashion. Even President Obama was very emotional in his official reaction regarding the tragic event.
Despite this tremendous outpouring of sadness, most people have not had their loved ones taken away from them in this manner. Notwithstanding the palpable grief that has been expressed by the public, most of us cannot fully grasp the depth of despair that has been visited on the family members of those who lost their lives during this incomprehensible carnage. Consequently, the intensity of our sorrows will begin to fade as time progresses, whereas this tragic loss will continue to haunt the parents and siblings of those who were brutally murdered on this cold December morning.
The unimaginable massacre that took place in Sandy Hook Elementary school has renewed calls for stricter gun control. The availability of guns is a serious problem. Therefore, this heartbreaking event could indeed force reluctant lawmakers to pass legislation that either ban assault weapons or make it more difficult to acquire them.
Others have also argued that more focus should be placed on mental health issues since there is some evidence that Adam Lazan, the shooter, might have been mentally ill. The mental health system has been in a dismal state. Even in a wealthy state like Connecticut, many people who suffer from a mental illness do not receive the care that they desperately need. Thus, it would be a positive development if the tragedy could prompt government officials to take stronger action to create a more effective mental system.
The victims’ families might welcome those steps. Knowing that the loss of their loved ones could become the catalyst for those changes might bring some comfort to the grieving parents and to many of the relatives. Most of the public would also praise those measures. But even such important action would not come close to fill the growing void that the family members must feel after this painful loss.
Although the grisly shooting has gripped the attention of most of the public, the shelf life of our emotional investment and our grief will be much shorter than that of the close relatives of the victims. Therein lies the limit of compassion. Most of us will not continue to hear the voices and laughter of the victims echo in our minds. Unlike the parents, most of us cannot fully understand what it feels like to tuck our children in bed, drive them to school the following morning and find out a few hours later that we would never get to hug them again; we would never hear them calling our names again; we would never see them grow up; we would never see them love someone and be loved by someone else; we would never be in their presence again; and we would never read bedtime stories to them before tucking them to bed again.
Yes, our hearts have been heavy and many of us shed tears upon hearing this horrendous tragedy. But our attention will soon shift completely to the demands that life places on us. While we move on, the life of the parents and the victims’ relatives will continue to be burdened by this sudden loss. Soon enough, they will be dealing with this unbearable pain all by themselves. Their inescapable anguish would only be knowable to those who have endured tragedy of similar nature.