If you are a parent, you have witnessed your children doing things that may not be the best of choices. If you are a sibling, your standards might not be as high, but you’ve witnessed your sister or brother doing things that you absolutely do not want to be a part of.
As families, we live through all sorts of trauma — be it suicide, addiction, abandonment, or a myriad of other things.
We grieve when those we love hurt themselves — but what about when they harm others?
There are, unfortunately, too many stories of shootings in America. We talk about the bright futures once held by the dead, we gossip about how the shooter got to this place in life, we conjecture and speculate and pray that none of this touches our own family.
You rarely hear about those left behind by the person causing harm to others.
There have been 146 mass shootings so far this year. This is a lot of sons and daughters. Do you ever think about their families?
These people are often left on their own to deal with their confusion and shock. They have their own feelings of guilt and shame. Parents may wish they had never had children; they may dwell on the person the shooter used to be.
If the shooter survives, they may be confronted by a family member asking how they could take all those lives yet were afraid to do anything (helpful or harmful) with themselves.
Families often feel that they should be able to explain the cause of the violent outburst but are mostly at a loss the same as the rest of us. They can be as angry as the rest of the world too.
Could they have limited screen time? Kept a better eye on computer usage? Spent more family time together? Fed their family a better diet? Gotten a dog?
There is really no way of knowing why someone turns out the way they do. It’s a million zillion components that all come together to create a unique human being.
It is often forgotten that the families of those committing violent acts are experiencing a loss too. Even if that person survives, they are mourning the loss of what once was and what will never be.
Can we move away from the narrative that bad people come from bad homes? Can we acknowledge that in most cases, parents are simply doing their best? That everyone has something going on that no one else can see?
Should the family members survive (and sometimes they don’t), they deserve our compassion, rather than our disgust.
Something to think about in these crazy days. May you never have firsthand experience. May you remember to be kind.
May we all have better days ahead.