December. A festive month of celebrations, with lights lit to battle the darkness. We know, however, that many of the joys of the season can intensify the sense of loss and grief felt by survivors, and we feel for anyone burdened with extra pain during the holidays.
Nevertheless, we know full well that life can get better despite the most enormous challenges.
After we lost Jessi, for years we abandoned our tradition of decorating a beautiful evergreen with the ornaments we had been collecting for each of our children since they were born. We did not have a Christmas tree for six years. But in 2018, we were able to start a new tradition: We put up a white-and-silver tree that looks nothing like the ones we used to adorn.
It represents a different time, a different place and a different life. While it is not the life we had anticipated — the one in which we planned to watch Jessi build a career and then a family — it is the one we have, and we are still grateful.
In December, the tide of growing darkness turns, and every day after the 21st promises more daylight. Soon there will be a new year that leaves 2020 behind. We are thankful for the coming vaccines that may change all of our lives, and allow us to get out on the road again and be with you not only via Zoom, but face-to-face. We are also so very thankful for the work and alliances we’ve seen bear fruit this year.
On. Dec. 13, we watched CNN’s Lisa Ling profile us and friends in a powerful, beautifully done hour-long show that underlined the out-out-of-control madness of gun violence, our country’s collective failure to adequately regulate guns and ammunition, and the fellowship of survivors so important to us. We were honored, touched and fortified. Please watch it if you haven’t already.
We are also thrilled by the upcoming mindfulness program that is launching on January 7. The response from survivors has been overwhelming, and the program now has a waiting list. We are excited!
Read a little bit more in this issue about Angela Schellenberg, a counselor and long-time friend who is supporting survivors in the state of Washington, and who will embark on the new mindfulness training program. She explains the specificity of trauma-informed therapy, and how she herself, a survivor, has benefitted from it. Read as well about Brenda Mitchell, also enrolled in the UCSD program, who we’ll be following over time.
And finally, we thank YOU. It’s true that none of us would choose to be part of the club of people devastated by gun violence, but we care about you with all our hearts, and we draw strength from you.
Wishing you a peaceful holiday and all the best in the New Year.
Sandy and Lonnie
P.S. - If you are able to add to our annual appeal, please donate here!