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Holding Them To My Bones: Thoughts on the Newtown Tragedy

I have so much to say and nothing at all to say.

I feel that, as a grief counselor, and as someone who has experienced so much grief, I should have comforting words to offer, but the truth is that I do not. I have been writing about this tragedy since I first found out about it on Friday morning, crying over my laptop in a coffee shop as I did. I have written over and over about how vulnerable motherhood has made me. I have written about parental anxiety and how we get up each day and must continue to find the bravery to send our children out into the world, trusting that they will be okay. I have written about fear and grief and devastation, and how everything that happened in Connecticut wounds us all, not just those of us with children.

I have written all of these things and then I have erased them and then I have written them again.

There is so much to say, too much to say, and absolutely nothing, nothing at all to say.

All weekend I have wept on and off for those families and those children, for the townspeople, and for all of us really. All weekend my mind has searched for ways to make this tragedy untrue, to take it back, to return those children to their parents somehow. All weekend I have been paralyzingly conscious of every word I utter to my daughters, every touch, every future thought I have for them. I have felt guilt, gratitude, desperation and despair. I have felt love and luck and the terror of living in a world where anything could happen at anytime.

I have also felt anger. I am angry at the way this country can come together in such beautiful unification over an ordeal such as this, yet how it can fall to pieces over matters of politics and protecting our citizens. I am angry that I feel unsafe right now. Angry that it feels as though there is nothing I can do to change the things I think should be changed.

But most of all I feel sad, a deep sorrowful mourning that dredges up from inside of my being. I know that in order to move forward from this I will have to let in just as much light and beauty, if not more, as the terror that has forced its way into my head. There is so much good in this world, so much of it right before my eyes.

Mary Oliver writes, “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal, to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends upon it, and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

Greg took this photo of me after Vera’s holiday performance at her little school on Thursday. I was already holding them to my bones.





  1. yes

    Comment by Esther Bradley-DeTally on December 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  2. [...] claire bidwell smith: “holding them to my bones: thoughts on the newtown tragedy” [...]

    Pingback by on newtown. on December 17, 2012 at 6:06 am

  3. Beautifully said.

    Comment by Aeshna on December 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

  4. [...] claire bidwell smith: “holding them to my bones: thoughts on the newtown tragedy” [...]

    Pingback by further reading on newtown. on December 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

  5. Beautiful! And your picture is adorable and precious!

    Comment by Vanessa on December 19, 2012 at 9:11 pm

  6. [...] My two favorite parenting-related posts on the tragedy are Kristen Howerton’s Five Things to Consider Before Talking to Your Kids About Today’s Tragedy and Claire Bidwell Smith’s Holding Them To My Bones. [...]

    Pingback by Invisible Hurts - Jillian Lauren on December 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm

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