26 Ways to Grieve, Heal, and Somehow Keep On Going

I was in a workshop at the State House on Friday when I started seeing tweets about a shooting. I read through them but had spotty internet access. It wasn’t until I got back to my office that I realized the extent of the horrific, tragic, and unnecessary moments that unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut.

I felt fairly helpless imagining the pain of the families and the fear of the children and could not imagine blogging about food or wine or travel.

We’re all hurting and will continue to do so for a long time. While I continue to feel helpless, sad, and broken, I hope that the below will be of comfort to those reading. Please feel free to leave your own tips for getting through tough times.

Peace and love to you.

wall of love


1. Tell your loved ones and other people you care about how you feel as often as possible. Not just family and close friends – thank a co-worker for being helpful or the grocery clerk for a friendly smile.

2. This is the darkest week of the year, literally. Light a candle to ward off the darkness, and spend a few minutes sending prayers or healing energy to the victims’ families.

3. Practice kindness whenever possible. Being considerate is more important than ever, and going above and beyond that could change someone’s day or life.

4. Slow down. Rushing, especially this time of year, keeps us from being in the moment, makes us hasty with others and impatient with ourselves.

5. Cry. I found out the news of the Newtown tragedy while at work, like so many people did. My eyes were definitely red by the end of the day, but I was able to breathe easier if even for a little bit.

6. Send a sympathy card to Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickenson Drive, Newtown, CT 06482

7. Laugh. With my heart heavy and hurting on Friday night, I found myself on Pinterest looking at ridiculous photos of puppies. It made me smile for a little while, just when it was needed.

8. Write. Connecting pen to paper allows us to spill our hearts and souls without judgment.

9. Be aware of mental health challenges. Many people face things like anxiety and panic attacks, depression, feelings of low self worth. If you think someone might be struggling, offer a hug or an ear.

10. Volunteer. Even a few hours of time helping someone else can change the world for the better, and we need all of that we can get.

11. Unplug. Speaking of anxiety, I caused myself some awful moments this weekend, staying glued to the coverage of the tragedy. Wanting to be informed and somehow stay part of what’s going on is normal, but too much is too much. There’s only so much we can take. You can turn off the news/turn away from the computer and still grieve for the victims and their families.

12. Give. Whether it’s going through your closest to give away winter clothes you no longer need or skipping a latte to donate to your favorite charity, it just feels like the amount of need right now is immense. We can fix it a little bit at a time.

13. Visit a special place. The day of the shootings, I stopped by the Cathedral in the South End. I have long left the Catholic church, but I still find solace in the quiet and beauty that the building can offer.

14. Count your blessings.

15. Don’t speak of the shooter ever again. Let’s not let people like this feel like they will achieve some sort of fame by being horrible.

16. Thank a first-responder. There are people who are brave enough to rush to scenes of terror, not knowing what they will face, but ready to help. They are true heroes.

17. Sweat. Getting the body moving is pretty much the perfect way to burn away anxious energy and build up endorphins.

18. Reconnect. Life gets in the way, and maybe there’s a friend you haven’t seen in way too long. Now’s the time.

19. Have a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Sometimes just the ritual of having a comforting beverage brings a little calm over the end of the day.

20. Do something you absolutely love.

21. Use something you’ve been saving for later. Wedding china, a great bottle of wine, some special candles. Today is a special occasion.

22. Help a parent. We don’t have kids, but we have 11 nieces and nephews, and I can see how difficult parenting is. If you have the time offer to pay a visit to your favorite kid and help his/her parents

23. Go to bed early. I know that, at least for me, being tired amplifies emotions times a million. I might not be able to change the bad things that happen, but I can look at them more clearly with extra rest.

24. Believe in humanity. There are more of us who are good than bad. Don’t despair.

25. Try to remember in the mundane moments how lucky you are. I need to do this more often, so I thought I would include it as a reminder.

26. If you think we might need to look at gun laws in light of the many, many senseless tragedies we have experienced, there are lots of resources out there. Get in touch with your representatives, and perhaps this event will change our futures for the better.

  1. Kelly’s avatar

    Great post, and many important reminders. I think we all feel like we have to do something, but we don’t know what to do.


  2. Jean | Delightful Repast’s avatar

    Thank you for this post, Meghan. All good, but especially 3 and 15. Re 3: Anytime we check ourselves and respond with kindness to someone who is rude to us, we just might be calming someone down who is inclined to “go off” and do something crazy then or later in the day. Re 15: I have made it a lifelong practice to never speak, or write, the names of these people.


  3. Emily @ A Cambridge Story’s avatar

    Great post, Meghan. I’ve been trying to keep #25 in mind more and more in my life. Thank you for articulating thoughts that have floated scattered through my head and for raising additional points that hadn’t occurred to me, like sending a sympathy card to the school (as obvious as that is, I simply hadn’t thought about it…)


  4. Daisy’s avatar

    you are amazing and I miss you. this is an unbelievably special post.


  5. Megan’s avatar

    24 is incredibly important. It’s so easy to just lose faith in humanity after something like this. And it’s also so important to let loved ones know that you love them and live every moment to its fullest. This is such a great list. I’m still teary-eyed thinking about Friday.


  6. Colleen @ Culinary Colleen’s avatar

    Beautiful post…I’ve been at a loss of words and this was just perfect to read.


  7. Michelle Collins’s avatar

    This is such a wonderful post. Even after reading and watching all of the news stories, part of me still doesn’t want to believe something this horrific actually happened. My heart aches for all of the victims and their families.


  8. Eric’s avatar

    This whole horrific tragedy is very difficult to understand. I grapple and try to wrap my head around it all, but I am unable to do so. These 26 ideas are truly wonderful – the parents have already spoken of forgiveness, and it is through posts like this I can understand why they need to forgive, otherwise they would lose themselves to it. My heart goes out to all those parents. I think that 5, 6, 13, 21, 24 and 26 have rung true with me over this weekend. This is a really great post.


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