• Catherine Hansen

Honouring the victims of the Uvalde shooting

Dedicated to Robb Elementary, Uvalde Texas


Composite illustration features the 21 victims — including 19 children and two teachers — of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. (Family handouts/Reuters) . Source.


This newsletter is dedicated to the memory of 19 children and 2 teachers killed by a lone 18 year old gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. This tragedy is so close to home and, yet, I feel so helpless. So many emotions and so much disbelief. It’s almost impossible to think about anything else.

This comes just 10 days after the racially motivated shooting in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo that killed 10 people.


There are no words but, somehow, I feel that there needs to be a way to honor their precious lives, taken too soon.


I sometimes find myself looking at photographs, deep into the eyes of people who have died - I try to see their soul - I try to see them for the person (in this case, the child) that they were and imagine all their hopes and dreams. I pause to read the names, aloud, and any memories that family members have shared so I can attempt to connect with them from afar. I try to imagine the pain, the loss, the heartache but I cannot possibly. All I can do is remember, acknowledge and pray.


I find myself trying to make sense of a situation that defies logic and then I begin to feel even more helpless and hopeless.


And then I remember that there is work to do. The world is in such unimaginable chaos right now and no one is coming to make things better. No one else, that is.


I was with my children last week in the middle of the woods. We had no phones, no connectivity, no distractions. We had only a tent, a camp stove, dehydrated food and each other. In those quiet moments, sitting on the ground, we talked about the world and I was saddened by the way my kids feel about a damaged earth and broken society we are leaving to their generation. They see the devastation, the destruction and the disconnection. They see the mental illness, the violence and the killing. It is raw and real for them. They really don’t have much to thank our generation for, we are leaving quite a mess.


Yet, in the same conversation, I was inspired by their insights, social awareness, compassion and care for a world and a humanity that seems, almost, too far gone. They know more in their tender teenage years than I ever knew in my 20’s and 30’s and they teach me new things every day. They understand diversity, equity and inclusion in real and tangible ways and not just as a tag line for a mission statement. They see gender as fluid, color as beautiful, differences as potent, people as human and love as all-healing. They respect women as powerful in their strength AND their tenderness. They see men as foundational to lasting change and witness that only a few will actually do the necessary work. They know who those men are and can pick them out of a crowd in a heartbeat. The rest, they confidently pass over.


They are observant of culture but realize that the way forward is counter-culture.


They are self-aware, globally-minded and pragmatic. If my kids are a sample of the next generation, we are in good hands.


And yet, there is still so much pain, loss and isolation.


We can hold it all, but not all at once.


With this message, I invite you to feel the sadness, fear, anger and heartache. Really feel it. Look at pictures, read the names, research the stories. Don’t let this "incident" go by unnoticed. It’s the numbness that disconnects us from each other and from life itself. We must learn to feel the pain, in order to feel at all. It’s only those who cannot feel, were not allowed to feel, who could possibly commit such heinous crimes.


Without proximity and connection to others and our own core, life is empty. Hate and "other-ing" creeps into the darkness.


If we cannot feel the misery, we cannot experience the magic.


If we cannot hold the despair, we cannot follow our dreams.


After you ask yourself what you feel and allow those feelings in – go ahead and cry, scream, yell and rant – be loud and emotional – it’s time! If knowledge of this, most recent, school shooting is not reason enough to express your emotions openly – I’m not sure what is. Human emotion is not meant to be locked up inside of you. Let it out. Share it with your family so they don’t feel so scared and alone. Tell them it’s okay to hurt and hold them tight. Ask them questions so they don’t wonder what that burning hole in their gut is and think they are the only one who feels it. Emotions are in there and they need to be heard, heeded, healed.


Then, slowly, steadily, follow the internal shift from sadness, fear, anger and despair through to what emerges next.


Allow the emotions to re-awaken, re-center, re-prioritize and re-connect you to what matters most.


Take as long as you need.


Healing is not linear and there may be bumps along the way. Ask for support and know that you are not alone in your grieving.


I’m deeply sorry to the children who were not safe at their Texas school on Tuesday. My own children have practiced lockdown drills in their Texas school and the necessity of this practice is unimaginable to me. These are children and they are our future. I’m sorry I didn’t do more. I wish I could have done more. (If you are being led to do more, click here for a credible resource on how to do so).


However, in the wake of such deep trauma for the families - I will do the only thing I know how – I will continue trying to extend as much love as I can exude, share as much hope for the future as I can glean, follow where my heart leads and say my prayers.


Life is precious, use it wisely.


Victims of the May 14, 2022 mass shooting, Buffalo, New York (CNN). Source.