As I watched reports of the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I remembered my own three precious children as carefree kindergartners. I found myself thinking of the precious children all over the world and the families who love them.

How can we respond to this devastating, incomprehensible loss of innocent, beloved children and teachers?

How do we begin to move beyond shock? And how do we manage unbearable grief? Can we calm our anxious hearts and those of our children to keep moving forward?

And how can we process the confusion and grief of the young perpetrator’s family. He was, after all, reportedly also a victim, a victim of mental instability. How can his family continue to live each day while they carry in their hearts and minds the heartless act caused by their beloved?

Two stories give me hope and inspiration that we CAN respond in ways that make a difference:

  1. 26 Acts of Kindness. Ann Curry is challenging all of us to do 26 acts of kindness for others as a tribute to the lives lost at Sandy Hook. This has become a powerful movement in a short amount of time. In fact, it has gone viral, and it and stirs our hearts, bodies, and wallets to move to action to create a better world! Read more.
  2. “Just Because” notes. Dawn Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook principal, gave her life in courageous acts to protect her students and staff. In addition, she left a lasting legacy for her family. Her daughter Erin is comforted and grounded by the “just because” cards her mother would give her from time to time, for no particular reason. These notes serve as tangible reminders of Dawn’s belief in and love for her daughter. They cannot be taken away, and they will comfort Erin for years to come. Read more, including one of the notes.

We Can All Help

We CAN make a difference. One small intentional act at a time. By how we care for our families, our communities, and yes, those who are different than us. After all, we are all connected.

Perhaps your family or Family Council would like to “build family muscle” … or “compassion muscle” … by together committing to “26 acts of kindness”? Or commit to investing the time to write a thoughtful note or story to a family member about how much they mean to us?

Let’s continue to “pay it forward” this Christmas season, and beyond.

Sally Derstine

Managing Partner, Senior Family Business Advisor

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