"Parents will go home today and hold and hug their children a little closer tonight-and tell them how much we love them," President Obama said during a press conference. I have heard several reporters and others interviewed express similar sentiments since the tragedy in Connecticut.
I was driving when I heard the news. At first I guess I just did not believe what I had heard and continued driving. Then I needed to pull over and just sat in my car and cried – for the children, their parents and families, and for those loving and caring teachers who tried to protect the children; and for their community and for the world which is a much darker place today. And of course I cried because I was flooded with three and one-half year old memories from those minutes , days and weeks after my daughter Casey died. I felt, sensed, imagined the collective grief of those who were now suffering and would suffer for the rest of their lives. The magnitude of my families’ grief somehow magnified twenty fold. It is utterly overwhelming and incomprehensible. So why will we hug our living children more and hold them closer tonight? Is it because we still have our children and other parents do not? Is it because for at least a part of today, and maybe for the next several days or weeks, we will allow ourselves as parents to imagine the unimaginable? Is it because we realize that the beliefs we have about the natural progression of life, children surviving parents, beliefs which allow us to function, now are threatened? Is it because we realize that with respect to what is most important to us, the health and life of those we love, we have so very little control? These thoughts and fears are primal and come from deep within, but ultimately are selfish and self-focused. What about these parents?
If the parents of the children killed in Connecticut are fortunate they will find comfort from friends and family and will have at least someone who will listen for as long as it is necessary- listen as they sob, moan, cry, scream, blame, deny, question, regret, plead, shut-down; listen as they tell the story of their loss, and tell it over and over again, as they must; listen as they anguish over whether their child suffered in those last few moments ; listen as they question whether they loved their child enough, or were good enough parents; listen as they question whether their child was happy and felt loved; listen as they question whether they did anything to bring this misfortune upon themselves and their child; listen as they question their faith and how a supreme being could have allowed this to happen; listen as they wish they were the ones killed instead of their child; listen as they question how they can go on living now that their child is dead; listen as they blame themselves for not being able to protect their child and not being there to hold and comfort their child in his or her last moments. And this is just the beginning for these parents .
Joel Feldman is an attorney in Philadelphia who established EndDD.org after his daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver. Since her death he has spoken to more than 125,000 teens and adults across the country about distracted driving. Mr. Feldman can be reached at info@EndDD.org