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WHEN TRAGEDY STIRKES IN CHILDHOOD
In the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, not all that far from the CBTF office in New York City, many people are stunned and in shock with the gravity of this situation. Who would do such a thing? What possible motive could the gunman have had? And why would he prey upon young children?
Unfortunately, many families living in the pediatric cancer world ask themselves similar questions when thrust into a world that they never expected to be thrown into. “Why my child?”, “What caused this to happen?”, “HOW could this happen to such a young child?”
We often talk about the differences among our children with brain tumors and children who haven’t suffered from this disease but when something as unexpected and horrific as a school shooting happens, this gap seems to draw closer together.
In either case, when you first hear the news you are beside yourself with emotion and feel like you don’t know what to do. You ask all of those “Why?” questions along with hundreds of others, maybe all going through your head in a matter of seconds. You grieve the loss of the life you knew before – even if your child (in the case of a brain tumor) is successfully treated or (in the case of a crime) unharmed, your life is disrupted, you’ve seen and experienced things you’ve never imagined, had conversations with your child that you never conceived of having and have watched your child be forced into adulthood long before it was time. Your life now becomes doing what it takes to define a new “normal”.
Many people fear that it will happen again and for their safety or health and in either case, families are brought into a world that is difficult to understand unless having lived it.
For those who grieve the loss of their child, the whys penetrate even deeper as they seek to make sense out of something that is so senseless.
There is no consolation for an immense tragedy that can take away all of the heartache that it causes but sometimes, just sometimes, the compassion that people extend to one another after it happens can help to keep positivity afloat as it brings people who otherwise wouldn’t have known each other into a deep support group, a group where families who grieve the loss of a child can connect and understand each other’s pains and struggles, no matter the circumstance.
No one asks to be a part of a community where our children suffer but when the unthinkable happens, it links people from all different walks of life together as they find that connection in knowing people who “get it” and of who can help each other to find their new “normal” together.