Newtown, Grief, and Progress -- Six Months Later

Jun 14, 2013

Six months after the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, a town is figuring out how to balance mourning and moving forward. Grieving is a process with a clear beginning but no clear path. And Jill Barron says that six months after the Sandy Hook shootings, one thing is clear -- everyone is at a different place. "Some individuals are struggling and some individuals are ready to accept help." 

Barron is Newtown's mental health advisor.  She spoke on WNPR's Where We Live. "It's difficult to say, to give you exactly kind of a direct answer on where everyone's at because I can't say that.  I think everybody's in a different place." Barron says it's important for the community itself to decide what moving forward means, what it looks and feels like.  That can be hard to do in a tragedy as public as Newtown.  One of the keys, though, is to educate those dealing with grief. 

"Is this normal, is this not normal?  Because that's a lot of what I'm hearing in the community.  I'm having trouble sleeping, I'm distressed, I'm irritable.  You know, not everyone is going to need mental health services, most people won't need mental health services, but I think that when you don't get basic information, there's a sense of pathologizing.  And people think that everyone's going to be sick or everybody's going to have PTSD.  And that's not the case."

 Another unavoidable reality in traumatic situations is the outpouring of generosity from outside of the community. But while it's welcomed, at some point, it can be too much.  And at some point, it ends. "And what you're left with is -- What do we have?  And, if there's not a mechanism to think of building the strength from within, and how as a community are we going to move forward and find those strengths from within, then it's not sustainable." And six months later, one goal is still trying to find out what sustainable means.