Mass Shooting: Coping when Tragedy Strikes Close to Home


A mass shooting is an event in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter. At the time I’m writing this, there have been 5954 mass shootings in the United States since 1/1/2013. By the end of the year, I anticipate that there will be an average of two shootings per day. 

As a society, we have become so desensitized to violence in general, and gun violence in particular, that these statistics mean almost nothing. Even when tragedy strikes close to home, it’s hard to comprehend. 

I often find myself hearing the news of another shooting with a sense of numbness. It’s certainly easier to separate myself and my little town from the horror and violence that occur in towns I’ve never heard of.

The deadliest mass shooting of 2023 happened at the end of October. A total of 18 people were killed by a lone gunman, whose body was found a few days later. I don’t think I need to go into any detail – we’ve all seen the news stories. 

This time, I wasn’t able to take the stance of the spectator watching a horrifying scene on TV. This time, the details of the shooting paralyzed me with fear. 

My sister lives in Lewiston, Maine. She works for one of the local television news stations. Her boyfriend was born and raised there. On the night of the shootings, she was at work and a political debate was being broadcast. Her coworkers had to interrupt the debate with news that their neighbors and friends were under attack. Their world slammed to a screeching, terrifying halt as people were told to shelter in place for fear that the gunman wasn’t finished. Local schools and non-essential businesses stayed closed for the rest of the week until the news came that he was dead and it was over.

But it’s not over, is it?

My sister called me the day after the shooting when some of the victims had been identified. She could put faces to the names that were announced. Her boyfriend played darts with some of the victims. She sat in her car and cried, because she had to go back into her workplace and stay immersed in the tragedy so that the rest of the world could hear the story.

For me and my kids, it’s harder to be numb now, but it’s also surprisingly hard to be shocked. We now know what it feels like when the tragedy of a mass shooting strikes close to home.

I’m exhausted. I’m tired of explaining each mass shooting to my daughters. How can I tell them that there are people who aren’t getting the mental health care that they desperately need and also have unfettered access to weapons that should only be used on a war front? I’m sick of trying to help my children understand why the people we elect defend the right to bear arms at the cost of more and more innocent human lives.

I’m done trying to understand how sending my kids to school in a small town is no longer considered safe. 

There’s still a little hope, though. 

My kids are still young enough to get angry every time they see news of yet another mass shooting tragedy that didn’t need to happen. They’re the ones who will have the drive to change how their leaders represent them. They may even end up becoming leaders themselves. 

It’s a long tunnel, and right now the light is only a pinpoint, but it’s there. So for them, I keep the anger going and do the things I can do to start the changes that my kids will go on to complete.

If you are interested in preventing more violence and senseless deaths from mass shootings, please check out the following article from our Sister Site, Seacoast Moms:

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Mass Shooting: Coping when Tragedy Strikes Close to Home

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