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How to Talk To Children About the Aurora, CO Shootings–For Children and Adults

By Dr. Harold Duncan

Trauma and grief often intrude unexpectedly and violently in our lives.  Such was the case when a lone gunman killed and severely wounded dozens of theatergoers in Aurora, Colorado.

Regardless of where we are located geographically and whether we actually were connected to any of the victims of the tragedy, the event had a strong emotional impact upon most of us.

A client came to my office the morning after the violence.  She was in tears because she couldn’t stop thinking about the children, teenagers and adults who had lost their lives.  She grieved for the parents and other family members whose lives had forever been changed in the few seconds it took for the killer to inflict his destruction.  Those lives would never be the same.  She did not personally know any of the people who were directly impacted in Aurora, but her grief was very real.  Her story can be told hundreds of thousands of times worldwide.

No one can adequately make sense out senselessness or sanity out of insanity.  We can ask “why?” questions forever and never find answers.  In moments like these, it seems best to focus on the “what now?” questions:  What do we pray for?  What can we do (right now) to bring aid to the suffering, peace to the anxious, health to the wounded and support to the families (in their community and in ours)?  What do they need from other human beings?  Is it food, clothing, water, shelter, someone to talk to, someone to talk to about spiritual things?  Perhaps giving to relief agencies and blood banks makes the most sense at present.

You don’t have to do everything for everyone.  No one can.  Sometimes it works well to choose one person (in your community or theirs), listen to them, talk to them and find out if there is something specific that they want and pay attention to that specific need.  That person may be a child or an adult.   He or she may be experiencing anxiety and grief as a result of the Colorado tragedy.  There is always something we can do that will be healing to them and to us.

We’ve recorded two videos on this important subject and I invite and encourage you to watch each of them.

The first video deals with how parents might choose to talk to their children about the Aurora shootings.

The second video deals with limiting one’s own exposure to the seemingly endless, repetitive news cycles on television, the radio, in the newspapers or across the Internet.

If you are struggling with any of these issues, please feel free to call us today at Preston Place Counseling.  If we can’t help you, we will get you to someone who can.

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