There’s a concept called “anticipatory grief.” It’s about the tension and sadness that accompany the time before a feared event, or loss, happens. For us, our bodies and our souls have been carrying our grief as we’ve counted down the days to July 20, 2022, the date marking 10 years since a mass killer with an AR-15 slaughtered our beloved Jessi.
And yes, we felt the wallop — the pain, the flooding emotions, the dual sense that these past 10 years without our daughter have been unbearably long but have also seemed like an instant.
And then, on that very day, there was what seemed like a moment of grace. The House Judiciary Committee sent two bills to the full house — markups of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 and another bill (the Equal Access to Justice for Gun Violence Victims Act), which would strip weapons manufacturers of the longstanding immunity from civil suits that they should never have had. A week later, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a public hearing in which they questioned the CEOs of two weapons manufacturers about their practices and profits. And then, just before going into recess, the House passed an assault weapons ban! (See our coverage below.)
But political progress was not the only salve for our raw emotions. Every day of the last month — in fact, our entire Honor with Action tour — has been punctuated by beautiful messages and acts of kindness and support from so many allies. In Colorado, on July 18, friends surrounded us with love and hosted a fundraiser for Survivors Empowered. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We also remember Jessi’s words after she survived a shooting in Toronto only seven weeks before having her life taken in Aurora: “Every moment we have to live our life is a blessing…Every second of every day is a gift.”
So what next? Most of you know that we, along with Giffords, put out a toolkit this year that addresses how new survivors can cope with their upended realities. Amid the ongoing emotional, mental, and spiritual turmoil of our loss, we have been able to practice mindfulness and seek peace. We will take part in the free mindfulness meditation program this August that we’ve organized in collaboration with the University of California at San Diego. Please take a look at our website for more information and to join.
Check out the news items and survivors' stories in this issue, and our profile of Dr. Jennifer Miller, a real agent for peace and healing.
We will continue our Honor with Action tour through the end of this year, as we wend our way back to Texas. In September, we’ll be in Colorado again at a Jackson Browne concert that will donate a portion of the proceeds to Survivors Empowered. In October, PBS will air a documentary on gun violence prevention. A portion of the documentary will focus on why we founded Survivors Empowered and what part we have played in the lives of gun violence survivors this past decade. In December, we’ll join other survivors and supporters to remember the 20 children and six teachers whose lives were taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Along the way, we’ll be writing and talking and supporting every effort to maintain the momentum for positive change in the gun violence prevention movement.
In the 10 years since the utter shock and devastation of Jessi’s murder, we’ve built Survivors Empowered, and we’ve built amazing friendships and alliances. What we want more than anything now is an end to the never-ending gun violence in this country that has left so many survivors to cope with their immense grief, and so many of us all to cope with anticipatory grief for the next tragedy. We are doing all we can to bring about that new day. We will take heart that more and more others are walking with us.
Sandy and Lonnie