Death has always been a heavy and hard conversation to have with children but when a tragedy like the Orlando shootings happen, and it is blasted all over the news, it is taken to a whole new level. You can deal with it or you can hide from it.
As I was waking up for the day, at 7AM, and getting ready to head to work I noticed the notification pop up on my phone. “20 dead, 42 injured in early Sunday morning club shooting.” I left for work. By 10AM the death toll had risen to 50 making this the deadliest mass shooting in US history. What?! Why?!
I was numb and confused and didn’t know how to process this. I wasn’t home so I wondered how much my children were hearing of this story. Did they have the tv on? Was the news breaking in? Did their father or did my oldest read it and announce it to discuss the tragedy? I couldn’t process what was going on in my mind but I immediately worried about my kids and how they would perceive it.
Here I am about to drop my daughter off at a summer camp for the week and I can’t even manage to wrap my brain around this awful news. I am trying so hard to go over all the lists of things my daughter needs for the week and it is hard to concentrate while these little push notifications with new bits of info keep popping up. I needed to stop and absorb this. I needed to because I have to help my kids absorb this. I needed to prepare before I walk in the door.
I would love to tell you I did just that. I would love to tell you how I gathered my thoughts and then after hugging my children extra tight and long I had a heartfelt conversation with them. But I can’t. I went in and I found out that my family had heard the news but that is honestly as far as the conversation went. I don’t think it has sunk in with anyone yet. I really think that is mostly because the television has been off and the only news anyone has gotten has been from the small news blurbs on phones.
This was very different for me. We have seen public tragedy like this before and we have dealt with it. When 9/11 occurred I was driving my son to preschool and we listened in the car. When the Boston Marathon bombing took place we had a dear friend who had fortunately just cross the finish line. With both those situations and several others we had to face the dreaded topic of death with our young children and every time watch as a piece of their innocence was snatched away.
Today was a different experience. Today we were busy with our lives and today we got to put off the discussion that we dread. Just for today.
Now in the next few days and weeks it will set in and I will have many discussions with my children about death and hate but I think I am going to take a whole new approach. Every time one of these tragedies happens I always explain that there are bad people in the world that do bad things. We talk about how it is ok to be sad and even mad. Sometimes the conversations go smoothly and lead to deep heartfelt talks and other times I feel they are scripted at best with everyone just trying to get through the uncomfortable topic. Not this time.
One thing I want to teach my kids, and as a blogger I feel very strong about this, is choose your words wisely. After something so devastating, so hateful as this attack people will talk and people will say anything. People will speak from grief, people will speak from anger, and some people will speak from fear. There will even be a few who will use this to push their agenda. I want to teach my children in time that is full of such sadness we should speak nothing but love. The families and those close to the victims need to be so overwhelmed with that love that they are lifted during this time and not beaten down. They need to see that hate did not and will not win. I want my kids to know that no matter what color, what sex, what religion, how much you make, or who you choose to love will ever make you less of a person in my eyes. I want my kids to see my example and learn from it.
To all those who were affected by the Orlando shootings my heart goes out to you and I am sure that I speak on behalf of all of us at Austin Moms Blog when I say you are in our thoughts and hearts tonight, tomorrow, and forever.