New York State Funeral Directors Association

When we first heard about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, most of us experienced overwhelming feelings of shock, disbelief and sadness very much like our reaction to the horror of 9/11.

These feelings of grief can be just as intense as when we lose a loved one who is close to us.

Young children are especially susceptible as they wonder how can something like this happen at school - usually a safe and pleasant environment. Some students may experience survivor guilt.

The American Psychological Association’s Help Center explains that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event.

These emotions can very similar to what we feel when a loved one close to us passes away.

The Help Center suggests a number of ways to cope with these emotions and cautions that professional help should be an option when one has difficulty functioning or performing basic activities of daily living.

It is also well to remember that many funeral directors are trained as grief counselors and can provide solace to those who are overwhelmed by feelings of grief.

Writing in The Director, the magazine published by the National Funeral Directors Association, Celine Clark observes that funeral directors are in a position to offer a safe place for reflection and remembrance, a community resource that cannot be underestimated.

According to Ms. Clark, “Every day funeral directors walk families through their own quiet tragedies, losses whose impact might not have a national reach but that are no less devastating to those funeral directors serve.

Ms. Clark offers ways in which funeral homes can open their doors to the community and serve as a place to mourn during times like these:

  • Place a special condolence book in the funeral home’s reception area for folks in the community to sign
  • Conduct a memorial service as a powerful way to honor the dead
  • Let the community know what the funeral home is doing
  • Remember that feeling grief when a tragedy such as the Newtown, CT shootings occurs is a character trait of a compassionate and sensitive person