Resisting “Why?” for Healing

Gun regualtion

Like every thinking, feeling person in the universe, I was deeply affected by the school shootings in Connecticut last Friday. And by deeply affected I mean I’ve been walking around with a grey cloud above my head for days, endlessly trolling online news sources for additional information about the tragedy; engaging in email and phone and Facebook conversations about gun control and mental illness and the grieving process.

For the first few days, I gave myself a pass to dive as deeply as I wanted into the media vortex that is American news coverage – and to indulge in as much accompanying dialogue as I wanted, regardless of how dark and confused it would make me feel later – similar to eating as many doughnuts as you crave with no thought of the consequences. After all, I am a parent of a kindergarten-aged child and I’m about to bring another kid into this world, plus, the tragedy took place in a town I know well – my sister and her three children have lived in Newtown for years (thankfully, they are all safe).

But when Monday rolled around and I was still in a dark funk, I took a closer look at what was truly behind my sadness. Yes, I was mourning the loss of innocent lives and empathizing with the parents left to rebuild lives around the empty space permanently etched in their hearts. But I was doing something else as well. I was searching desperately for “why.”  My brain refused to accept that something like this could happen arbitrarily, that there wasn’t an a-to-b-to-c logical equation that would explain away the hurt.

To stop looking for “why” would mean accepting what was as that which truly is. Ouch. The thought alone felt painful. Yet, I can see how this is the only way to proceed. Complete acceptance is the only way to begin healing. This doesn’t mean that I accept my country’s gun regulations or that I accept inadequate care of mentally ill young people, but it does mean that I set down the need to force an answer on an unanswerable question: “Why did this happen?”

I’ve done so on a smaller scale many times before: accepting that I didn’t get the job or that my romantic relationship was over.  In each of those cases, as soon as stopped asking, “why?” I began experiencing some relief, some peace of mind and heart. The tragedy in Connecticut is asking me, more than ever, to resist “why?”

I hope I can do it.