DENVER (AP) — The Denver Post collected the thoughts and sentiments from families who suffered the loss of a loved one or who survived the Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999 for those still reeling from the shootings in Newtown, Conn. The shootings Dec. 14 killed 20 first-graders, six school staff and faculty, as well as the gunman’s mother. The gunman committed suicide.
The collection by the Post (http://bit.ly/TKF8sI ) was published Saturday under the headline: ‘‘Condolences from Columbine.’’
Be gentle with yourself... one breath at a time... one step at a time. You are on a lifelong journey, each of you will travel your own road. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve or deal with your emotions. You alone will decide how to heal.
You won’t forget, you will learn a new ‘‘normal.’’
Our hearts go out to your families. We lived it, we know what you’re facing. If there’s anything we could do to ease the pain, we would. Our prayers go out to you, that God sends comfort and strength. If we could be there with you, we would give you hugs.
Hugs work miracles.
— Al and Phyllis Velasquez, parents of Kyle Velasquez, who died at Columbine High School
Be prepared for and accept the stages of grief you will hear about, because it’s natural. Accept that you and others around you may grieve differently — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t let it be a conflict.
When the right time comes, bond with those other families because nobody knows what you've been through like they do. Be prepared for some people who will say some insensitive things because some people just don’t know how to handle you.
Honor your child. And think — and I know this is hard to say early on because you should grieve — but as you go on, think about what your child would want for your life. And being unable to get through this would not be what they would want.
I really recommend seeing a grief counselor. Ministers and friends play a role, but I think you need that professional, third-party conversation. Because there may be things you won’t share with your friend or minister or priest. You need to put those things on the table and let them out.
—Tom Mauser, father of Daniel Mauser, who died at Columbine High School.
Having lived through the terrible pain that you are all now experiencing, we know that there are no words that will ease those intense, unrelenting waves of sorrow and unbelief. But, regardless, know that Misty, Chris and I, our nation, and so many others across the globe are grieving with you right now and will not let you journey alone.
Though we will not touch that loved one’s face again in this life, know they will forever reside in our hearts and memories, and will still travel through life with us. Please take comfort in knowing that they knew you loved them without bounds.
There are so many people who want to do something, to help in some aspect. Allow yourself to be open to all avenues of love, help and compassion — whatever good things people want to do. They come in all forms.
When we lost Cassie, people fed us, reminded us they were still praying for us, that we were still on their minds and hearts. People cut our grass. People gave us resources. That allowed us an extra measure of freedom to really immerse ourselves in our grief, and then begin to work out of it.
And the bottom line: As much as it hurts right now — and we know that feeling too well — it will get better. Life is going to get better. It'll never be the same, but it is going to get better.
Praying for you all,
—Brad, Misty and Chris Bernall, family of Cassie Bernall, who died at Columbine High School
I'm not sure what I'd say to you. I found out that sometimes it’s better for people to say nothing because you’re so deep in pain that you don’t want to hear anything except something that brings your child back to you.
Sometimes it’s just being there — a hand on the shoulder, a gentle hug, a glass of water, or a plate of food. Often there are no words that can help you feel better.
But, if you were to ask me, I would offer this: Over time, the pain becomes less. Over time, although you'll never forget, never get over it, you can move on. And although it seems so distant now, you will feel joy again.
You need to take care of yourselves and the other kids in the family. Accept the support and love of family, friends, and community. It will help you heal and will help them as well.
And, finally, there is no right way to grieve. We all grieve and heal in our own fashion. Do what feels right for you.Continued...