Statement from Sandy and Lonnie Phillips:
Navigating The Aftermath of Shootings
Our beautiful daughter Jessi was stolen from us in a mass shooting ten years ago. We are devastated and angered by the horrific and continuing loss of life suffered throughout our country. The new year is only a few weeks old and the US has already suffered from 39 mass shootings (four or more people shot) which included six mass murders (four or more people fatally shot). In addition to the mass shootings, more than 1200 people have died by firearm homicide and almost 1600 by firearm suicide since the beginning of this year alone.
Survivors of shootings, including injured victims and people whose loved ones were stolen by gunfire, are left in grief and shock, often unsure of the next step to take. We’ve been there. We know what you are going through. Together with Giffords, we created a free, online Survivors Toolkit to help guide the way through the horrific aftermath of a shooting. We encourage survivors, community leaders, first responders, and friends to read the toolkit and share with others. Trauma therapy resources are available on our website.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides guidelines for parents to help their children cope with the stress. Common reactions for children to trauma can include changes in behavior, headaches, and increased sensitivity to sound. Parents can respond with patience, helping children to cope with their feelings, and limiting media exposure.
You or your loved ones might be feeling symptoms of trauma-related stress. The American Counseling Association reminds us to care for ourselves in the aftermath of a shooting as well as others. Try to eat right, sleep, exercise, and maintain a normal routine if possible.
Tens of thousands of people have been impacted by gun violence over the years. People who have lived through other shootings or whose loved ones have been fatally shot may be deeply impacted by the recent shootings. If possible, please check in with survivors. Ask them how they are. Give them time to talk about how they feel and about their loved ones who were killed.
We understand how easy it is to be overwhelmed right now because we, too, are overwhelmed by the shootings. Honor your feelings. Care for yourself. Look for balance by remembering the kind and wonderful events that happen every day. And if you feel like you need help, trauma resources are available.
Finally, it’s okay to step back. It’s okay to say that it’s all too much. That happens to all of us. If you need help, please consult the resources above. In the meantime, please remember the message Jessi wrote just seven weeks before her death:
“I SAY ALL THE TIME THAT EVERY MOMENT WE HAVE TO LIVE OUR LIFE IS A BLESSING. SO OFTEN I HAVE FOUND MYSELF TAKING IT FOR GRANTED. EVERY HUG FROM A FAMILY MEMBER. EVERY LAUGH WE SHARE WITH FRIENDS. EVEN THE TIMES OF SOLITUDE ARE ALL BLESSINGS. EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY IS A GIFT.”