Following the devastating events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut, a number of friends, clients, even strangers, approach me wondering how to deal with this tragedy. The conversations focus initially on the Sandy Hook tragedy itself, then generally expand to address the question of how to deal with tragedy and trauma in general.

My initial observation – and suggestion – is that until we know individually what to do, we simply pay attention not just to the tragedy, but the amazing way humans intuitively respond to such difficult things – and take heart from what we observe.

Yes, it was a dark day in Newtown, as it was in Columbine, as it was on 9-11.  Yet within those days of darkness we also see something else. Light. Light following immediately on the heels of the darkness. Light rushing in from all over the world to dispel the overwhelming darkness.

So, what do we do? Honestly, I’m still too numb to advise anything specifically, except this: When you see such overwhelming darkness, notice also the light that accompanies it. The light of love, compassion, generosity of heart that always ultimately conquers the darkness.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

– an old English parable

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • The president also thanked the Newtown community for inspiring the rest of the country with the care and support they showed one another during a time of unthinkable tragedy.

  • Excellent — and timely — message Dr. Paul! Thanks for sharing.


  • I am so glad you took the time to help lift us up. That which you focus on expands. We need to focus on the good so it can overcome the bad.

  • Michelle Ballantyne says:

    Thank you, Dr. Paul. Light does repel darkness…we should always focus on that.

  • Blu Robinson says:

    Thank you Dr. Paul, what a very inspired message for a very difficult time. I also thank you for the advice given. Many times we feel that we need to give advice even if timing is difficult. Yet through every experience you listed and tragically many more, It’s the light in these dark situations that draw our attention from the sadness to the healing process. For my part, I will continue to pray for that light to be with all those affected by this tragedy and for that light to aluminate every heart, mind and soul to create change and establish a more peaceful future.

  • Jasin Leavitt says:

    Great message Dr. Paul. It was very inspirational. Thank you

  • DrPaul says:

    After composing the first version of this post, my wife shared this link with me – a story published in the Deseret News in Salt Lake City illuminating some of the light that has come through. I was moved to tears by the story of the mortician. The missionary mentioned in the article is our nephew. I will put together a separate post about that, but wanted to share the article now with you.

    Bring light!