The community of Newtown, Connecticut, was left broken-hearted and struggling to find comfort and healing in the aftermath of a school shooting on December 14 that resulted in the deaths of 20 first-graders and six educators.
One Newtown resident, Dr. John Woodall, is a psychiatrist who has made a career out of helping people recovering from widespread trauma. His studies in resilience have taken him to Bosnia, New Orleans, Uganda, and to New York City after 9/11. Dr. Woodall has now been called to share what he knows about overcoming grief in his own hometown. “This will never leave you and should never leave you. Your tears are proof of your love.” he said. “The trick is, you’ve got to find a new form for your love.”
“There has been a silver lining in the midst of all this darkness,” said John’s wife, Margo Woodall, “People have risen up to help each other out. We’re more of a community now than we were before.”
The Woodalls shared the following words of comfort an interfaith memorial service in Newtown, which was nationally televised on CNN. The passage was originally offered by ‘Abdul-Baha, the son of the founder of the Baha’i Faith, to a mother who was grieving for her deceased son.
”O thou beloved maidservant of God, although the loss of a son is indeed heart-breaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet one who knoweth and understandeth is assured that the son hath not been lost but, rather, hath stepped from this world into another, and she will find him in the divine realm. That reunion shall be for eternity, while in this world separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief.
Praise be unto God that thou hast faith, art turning thy face toward the everlasting Kingdom and believest in the existence of a heavenly world. Therefore be thou not disconsolate, do not languish, do not sigh, neither wail nor weep; for agitation and mourning deeply affect his soul in the divine realm.
That beloved child addresseth thee from the hidden world: ‘O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world—a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.”