Aurora Shootings: What Victim’s Families Want to Tell You But Can’t

((I was ready to unload my anger and passions on this site today. Nancy’s diary made me delay that…for at least a few hours.) – promoted by SSG_Dan)


In response to the information that Westboro Baptist Church may be coming to Denver to protest the funerals and memorials of the victims, this is the plan we are circulating wide and far: A Wall Of Love.

If you attend a funeral where Westboro is present to protest, simply turn your back to them, arm in arm with other members of the Wall of Love. Create a gentle barrier to keep the families surrounded by love. Do not jeer the protesters. Do not give them attention. Do not protest them. Simply surround the families and mourners with love and light. Please pass share among your networks. Thank you!


I have an Aurora mailing address (my neighborhood is unincorporated still) and spent much of yesterday talking to people who were directly affected. One woman’s friend died. Another friend lost a coworker. Another friend was in the theatre next door when the shootings happened, and made it out unharmed, but frightened. Another friend knows a family whose daughter is hanging onto her life by a thread in intensive care. A paramedic friend seemed to be in a fog — the things he saw and the things he had to do will haunt him a lifetime. Another friend shared about a family member who is a nurse, and the stresses the employees are under at the hospital where she works. Everywhere we turn in Aurora, there are stories of heartache and despair. There is still much confusion, and many residents are in a state of shock.

Families and friends of the victims are reaching out to each other, trying to get news, sharing updates and consoling one another using social media. Facebook is full of posts asking, “Are you okay?” and “So glad you weren’t there last night!” Families are simultaneously trying to keep the media away with one hand, while asking for emotional support from people close to them with the other. What would have been private moments in another generation, are being played out in front of a world thirsty for real-time play-by-plays. Unfortunately, what is going on in Aurora  is not a “reality show”. It’s real.

Please remember these families and their friends are hurting. They are in pain, they are in shock, they are confused, and they are exhausted. Some are dealing with the biggest decisions they will ever make. Others are battling with guilt, despair, fear, and grief. While all this is playing out in their lives, they see our facebook posts. They see our tweets. They read our emails, and they hear our radio broadcasts. They too need to use those forms of communication for their own needs.

Our anger is a natural protective reaction to observing a crime. We want to avenge the deaths or the injuries of the innocent by holding perpetrators, and the conditions that create crime, responsible. Our adrenaline is flowing, and releasing it through anger can make us feel better.

Unfortunately, our anger is showing up in places where people are looking for support. Places where these people can’t help but look, and where it hurts them again, and again, and again. The tension our anger creates, hurts the very people we want to protect. Those who suffer today need us to protect them from the anger. They need us to shelter them, help them, comfort them, console them, pray for them, and to be gentle around them. At least for today.

When a victim’s family or circle of friends are reaching out for support, they don’t care if that person is a Republican, or a Democrat, or a member of the NRA, or a proponent of gun control. They don’t care what race they are, or if they were born in this country. They don’t care how they vote, whether or not they own firearms, or if they go to church or synagogue or mosque. What they care about is if that person is ready to hold them when they need a hug, or catch them emotionally if they “collapse”. They want to know that person can be called in the middle of the night, or will mind picking up their kids from school. Or will sit with them while they cry. If the world around them is full of anger, there is no space for their pain.

There will be many months to analyze what happened, to point fingers, to assign blame, to argue, to debate, and to “be right”.  There will be many months to carry a flag, to score political points, and to protest transgressions. There will be ample time to share our anger, if that is what we feel compelled to do. But that day is not today.

I am not saying, “Don’t be angry.” I am saying, let’s be responsible for our anger. Let’s be sensitive to who sees that anger, and how, and when. I’m asking all of us to look deep within our selves and discover alternative ways we can react that will help us all to heal.

Let’s all take a break from acting angry for a day or two. Let’s give people around us a safe space to grieve, to reach out, and to be vulnerable. Instead of using our energy to be angry, let’s use it to comfort those around us. And for those who do not live close to Aurora, there is so much that can be done.

   * Make some handmade cards and send them to one of the area hospitals.

   * Bake some cookies and bring them to your local fire stations and police stations.

   * Organize a car wash and have the proceeds go to a scholarship fund in someone’s memory.

   * Write a check to the Aurora Mental Health    

    * Center to get people the counseling they need for months to come.

    * If you’re in Denver, call your closest  hospital and offer to host a traveling relative. Write a poem of gratitude for all who survived, and share it widely.

   * Go door-to-door and collect contributions to the Red Cross.

   * Start a prayer chain and offer it to victim’s family members.

   * Create a memorial website, giving people an opportunity to share their condolences or their grief.

   * Paint a sign with a comforting message and display it on your front door.

   * Tie black and blue ribbons around your trees (Batman colors).

   * Host a prayer vigil in your own community or at your church, and invite the larger community.

   * Be extra sensitive to teenagers trying to process what happened, and ask if they need someone to talk to.

   * Thank a nurse.

I could go on and on. After Columbine, Colorado witnessed extraordinary displays of kindness and outpourings of love from all over the world. And as the years went by, we paid that gift forward by offering our love and support to other communities in need.  No doubt, this will happen again. This tragedy will once again bring out the best of what makes us human, and our acts of love will make it possible for others to heal.

Until then, let’s all be careful with our on-line communications. Let’s all be the kinds of support we would want available, and easily accessible to us, if our world was falling apart. Let us seek revenge against hate by being pillars of love.

Nancy Cronk

American Red Cross: http://www.coloradoredcross.or…

Aurora Mental Health Center:…

About nancycronk

Nancy Cronk is a longtime community activist and women's leader living in Arapahoe County. Six months before the historic "red sweep" election of 2014, she was recruited to run as a "placeholder" in HD37, and managed to bring in 40K from 500 small donors, and 42% of the vote -- just one point lower than the previous candidate who ran in a presidential year.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Barron X says:


    but Nancy,

    I think you’re wrong to expect, or even ask, the general public to curb what they tweet, text, post, blog, IM, email, etc.  

    Me, I can use email, and I can read and follow sites like CoPols; that’s about the extent of my connectedness.  My only phone is a landline, without caller ID, and a tape message machine.

    So I consider myself an outside observer of the culture of connectedness that is troubling you.

    Many young people, and some older ones, conduct an almost continuous stream-of-consciousness dialogue with the entire world, not having any awareness of the concept of privacy, or the value of prudence.  

    I’ve seen this term used in a totally different way, on this very site,

    but this is the real “Borg” of modern civilization.  


    So, how to protect those now grieving from the hurt of seeing insensitive messages ?

    They need an adult who cares about them to tell them to turn off their cell phones and disengage from the on-line world for a while.  

    The people you want to protect, Nancy,

    either follow or have followers in China, or both.

    They probably have “friends” in Biafra, wherever that is.  

    The only way to effect a shut-down as you propose would be through some sort of government action.

    Neither one of us trusts the Government to do something like that well.  

    If these are your friends who are being hurt, take their IPads from them.

    They won’t understand it now, and they WON’T thank you later,

    but sometimes that’s the price of being the parent/ adult.  



    I understand why you want to scold everyone out there in that cruel, insensitive world.  

    Operating in an atmosphere of perceived anonymity, I’m sure that some awful things are being said.  

    Golly, yesterday morning, on the Gazette website (I live in the Springs,) I saw comments berating parents for bringing young kids to an adult movie that was playing in the middle of the night.  

    Neither the time nor place for such a comment, but impossible to stop.  

    God bless you.  

    Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place.  

    Despite your politics, you are something of a model for me.  

  2. parsingreality says:

    Better wise than smart, (which you are, too.)

    We know a lot about anger, grief, and healing, but that’s all BT, BF.  Before Twitter, Before Facebook.

    (I don’t do either because I don’t need a web of “friends” that extend past my own important core ones.  Yet MORE to demand my attention.)

    But regardless of my own sentiments, I do recognize that those services are impacting us, for better or worse.  

    Brave New World or something.  

  3. OldAuroraDem says:

    Nancy, thank you for sharing your experience and your wisdom. For those of us in Aurora the concept of “six degrees of separation” just became two or three. Each of us knows someone who has been touched by this madness.

    I just saw that the hate-mongers from the Westboro Baptist Church are traveling to Colorado for the prayer vigil in Aurora this evening. In keeping with your message, I think that we need to show the Westboro folks and the world at large that Coloradoans share love in times of tragedy. We need to continuously demonstrate our capacity for a caring that transcends race, creed, or any other way of categorizing our people. Love one another — especially right now!  

    • nancycronk says:

      A few years ago, Westboro Baptist Church had planned to come and boycott the Jewish Community Center, some synagogues, and the Aurora Mosque. The date, time and details were listed on their “church” website. We were told by the ADL that in communities where people counter-protested, gave them media attention, or jeered at them, they return. in communities where they are completely ignored, they pack it up and leave. The synagogues circulated the advice to ignore them. WBC must have gotten wind of that because they canceled their protest.  

      • Lurker19 says:

        and #yes the six year old is in hell.

        Hard to ignore.

        Bad time for them to show up.  People want to punish somebody and the shooter is in solitary confinement.

        Hope we Coloradans can show our civilized side to the Westboro Hate Brigade.

      • nancycronk says:

        Re: Westborough Baptist Church Picketing Shooter’s Victims Memorials” The plan for the memorial and the funerals is this: A Wall of Love. If you attend a funeral where Westboros is present to protest, simply turn your back to them, arm in arm with other members of the Wall of Love. Create a gentle barrier to keep the families surrounded by love. Do not jeer the protesters. Do not give them attention. Do not protest them. Simply surround the families and mourners with love and light. Thank you. Please pass this information on!  

  4. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    A friend of mine who is a deployed soldier and hard-right conservative even took time to make a similar point to his friends yesterday, posting from Afghanistan. Why? He’s from Queens, and he remembers the last time a massive tragedy led people to forget the survivors and bereaved in their rush to assign blame and convince themselves that if people would “just” do this or that, another such tragedy would never happen.  

  5. saoirse03 says:

    I was a “first responder” at Columbine because I was a school psychologist in Jeffco schools. I am feeling some echoes of that experience, and appreciate your words, Nancy, encouraging others to think first right now about “holding” all those impacted by this horrific event in the embrace of compassion. Of course, we each have our own responses, some very deep, some very emotional. Some want to “fix” what’s broken and are passionate about it. We don’t need to tamp down our passion, but we perhaps do want to think about how we can best serve the “greater good” right now. Regardless of politics, this is a time of great pain. And lives have been changed forever. This is a time for compassion and staying focussed on “the main thing” … and right now, the main thing is to be extraordinarily kind and aware of “the other.”

  6. st0ry says:

    I know im going to get flamed for this, but I think the Westboro Baptist Church deserves a Branch Dividian-esque visit from our federal authorities…

    I can’t stand them.

    • They make money on communities over-reacting to their presence.  The best thing you can do is wall them out with a wall of bodies and ignore them.  Don’t do anything legally actionable – they’re mostly lawyers waiting for someone to sue.

    • GalapagoLarry says:

      Why wait for the Feds? (And you think you’re going to get flamed?!)

      And, suddenly my sig line gains meaning I really hadn’t foreseen.

    • nancycronk says:

      I am going to go early to the memorial site about 4pm and cut blue and black ribbons to give to people to wear. If anyone wants to go to their local fabric store, buy some rolls of thin ribbon, and joining me in doing this, that would be awesome. Thanks.

      Also, it’s a super hot day. If anyone wants to pick up water bottles to share there, PLEASE DO!

      At the risk of sounding too sappy, this website has become an important community in my life. I am assuming we have not lost any of our regular bloggers in the shooting (it’s impossible to know). I love you all, regardless of the degree to which we agree politically. Thank you for being part of this amazing community.  

  7. nancycronk says:

    This is something others can do to help Aurora. Please feel free to join me!

    I am making black ribbons (cutting off a 6 or 7 inch strip from a roll and adding a safety pin to them) and passing them out to everyone I see. When I do, I tell them they can donate to, the charity Governor Hickenlooper is pushing to help victims of the Aurora shootings. (Note: the ribbons ARE NEVER TO BE SOLD — just given with the information about how they can donate directly to Would love to have others join me!

    We hope to start this on a larger scale and will keep you posted. If anyone here has a connection to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby or JoAnne’s to ask for donations of ribbons, please let me know. Until then, we’re just buying them out of our own pockets. (I’ve been buying 1/4-1/2 inch wide black ribbons — you could use whatever you want to buy that is inexpensive. For less than $30, I’ve already made more than 1000 ribbons and passed them out, so it is not expensive.) Ribbons accomplish two things: they stimulate healing conversations, and they give us an excuse to encourage people to give. Giving will help the healing process for everyone. For more information, go to the fb page “Compassion For Aurora”.


    Here’s a link to msnbc. Originally, I was just passing the ribbons out, then yesterday, added the information about where people can give.

    If you would like to help me with this project, please let me know. Thanks!

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