Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief? —William Blake
We cannot forget that along with the excitement of a new school year, Labor Day celebrations, and the autumn equinox, September also recalls a national tragedy — that of 9/11. We paused, many of us, at 8:46 am, as we have each September 11 for the past 16 years. We do not forget that this remains a very real and raw day for many.
In our town, December echoes the pain of September. For many news sources, Newtown’s tragic event of December 14, 2012, will surface again that month, as families mark yet another year without the children and educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
How we can best nurture the members and former members of our community who have borne a loss greater than most can fathom remains confounding. No one expects that anyone has “moved on” from so great a tragedy; what gives moments of peace and what renews trauma is unique to each person.
Being the hometown paper, our approach to coverage of 12/14 has come from a different perspective than outside news reporting. On 12/14, nearly five years ago, our reporters and editors vowed to focus on Newtown and those most affected with sensitivity to coverage, and to be mindful of the grief shrouding those whose loved ones were murdered, and not pursue anyone immediately affected. Rather, we held open an invitation for the families of those children and educators to visit with us, if and when they should feel ready, or need to share information with our readers.
This fall, we have asked the families of 12/14 if they are ready to share a remembrance of their loved ones with Newtown Bee readers — their friends and neighbors. Several families have agreed to do so, either in their own words or written in partnership with a Newtown Bee reporter. Their stories will be periodically published in our paper beginning this month. Not all of those affected care to participate, and we respect their privacy.
Depending on availability of space in the paper, the style of the remembrance, and the number of families who choose to participate, these pieces may run in our paper individually or several at a time.
Foundations and charities in the names of many victims have worked to bring recognition and valuable change locally and nationally; but 26 families will never again be whole. By holding their names in our hearts, by being there in any way that is helpful to those left behind, we pay tribute not only each December, but every day that passes with those 26 gaps left in each 24-hour period.
By the time December pushes to our doorstep, we hope that we better understand what kind relief is best in a lifetime of shared sorrow.