how to honor a life lost too soon

in what is sure to be a week filled with media coverage surrounding last week’s mall and school shootings, it is important to make some decisions. these decisions, when converted to commitments to yourself, have the power to help you and the world.

this is likely going to be a hard week to move through. holiday music will be interspersed with news updates including information about the perpetrators and grisly details of how the impacted individuals died. this morning, in one such update, the news of the first funerals in connecticut was peppered with references to how many times the child had been shot. 

this kind of information does not help us.

this kind of information does not honor the life of the child who has been lost.

the power is in your hands this week to chose life with all it’s rich, difficult, complexities or to chose a powerless stuckness of sorts. it does not benefit the residents of the affected communities to ruminate on the tragedies that have occurred. it does not honor one’s life to focus on how one died.

unless you are actively working to determine more effective safety systems for shopping malls or schools, you are a coroner, you are a first responder who needs to work through your own trauma, or you are working to affect gun control laws or services for the individuals struggling with psychiatric disorders that make them prone to instability and violent behavior you will likely be more negatively impacted than positively helped by consuming alot of detailed news this week.

the individuals who died last week at the hands of gunmen were people with lives that i’m guessing were normal, extraordinary, interesting, unique, boring, and complex. instead of spending our time thinking about the way in which they died, let’s remember them for that...for having lived. for having been on this earth in their own crazy, unique, individual ways. for having mattered to those around them. 

so, when you feel tempted to ruminate on details, when you feel as though your heart might break for the families of those who are grieving, when you feel tempted to hold on to your own children (or mothers or brothers or husbands or friends) because you fear that they, too, could be taken at any moment, try to engage in life. breathe deeply, do something active to give voice to your hurt and sadness, love someone specifically and with wreckless abandon, journal, celebrate the life of someone important to you, write a letter, turn up the music and weep or dance or yell, pray, talk with someone that helps you feel better, and, mostly live. it’s the most potent way to honor the lives of those whose opportunity to do so has been taken.


  1. Thank you for this Doreen. This is helpful to me and addresses specific things that have come up in recent conversations with friends.

  2. i keep looking at the face of one of the victims. it would be way more powerful to honor her life in other ways. thank you.