With the death of the little children in Connecticut, I considered their surviving friends and siblings and remembered how I felt when I was a small child, and my little brother died.
Well meaning people tried to comfort me but their efforts added confusion and fear to my grief. "He is only sleeping," said by an adult I trusted to know these things, made me afraid of what would happen if he woke up alone in that grave. And if they put sleeping kids in a grave, maybe I should stay awake.
"Jesus took him to heaven because he was such a wonderful little boy."
This made me wonder why Jesus would take our kid instead of getting one of his own. And if a kid was really good, maybe Jesus would kill him.
"It's God's will." That one made me resent God. Why was it his will to cause our family so much sorrow. Couldn't he see how my mom and dad cried when they put away Donald's things? I overheard suggestions that if they had been better Christians, it would'n have happened. Is that how God punished people for falling short? Even good people like us?
None of those statements made any sense to me then when I was six years old. They make even less sense to me now that I've lived a few decades.
I hear people talk about how to discuss tragic events with little kids, and I want to tell them, don't say any of the above things. And don't suggest that God is punishing us for taking Him out of the schools. A loving God doesn't punish innocents because politics didn't go His way.
Senseless things happen that we can't explain, but our children should know they are loved and protected and that neither they or their families are to blame for a tragic aberration.
May God comfort and console all who grieve, and grant wisdom to those who seek ways to protect us from the shadow side of humanity.
I've been many things in my life and if I'm lucky I hope to become many more things before I leave the world. Today, I'm a priest, an author, a literary agent, and mentor among other things. This page will contain my thoughts and on any given day, it might reflect any of those identities.