on grief & the work of hands

Penelope the Empathetic Monster, by Dani Robins: an adorable blue stuffed monster toy with green feet and ears

Penelope the Empathetic Monster, by Dani Robins

When something horrible happens, it is natural to feel helpless. Stopped. Frozen. There’s no procedure for dealing with something horrific, no checklist for coping with a tragedy. We become locked in shock and grief.

I find myself restless in the face of horrible things, full of purposeless movement. I fidget, fret, pace: I need a place for all of this energy.

There’s no way to fix this, to mend what went wrong, but I can take my restless energy and apply it to something positive. As I do every time I am sad, or frightened, or in grief, I take up my needles, sit still, and breathe. I knit through it all.

A group of people have gotten together with the goal of knitting and crocheting stuffed comfort creatures for the surviving children of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. They will be working on knitting and crocheting approximately 600 small creatures over the next few months. It is a small effort, but it is done with love and compassion. In the end, these things are really what we have: this is what heals us as a community and as individuals.

If you are interested in joining us, we would welcome more hands. The work of hands is healing; having something positive to focus on provides some direction for the anger, hurt and grief that so many people are feeling right now. There’s no way we can repair what has happened here, but we can do this one tiny thing: we can sit and work, we can stitch in compassion and love. We can create: this is something we can do. This work in specific will provide a small, sweet gift to a child: a handmade reminder that in a world that can be so very ugly and frightening, there are also strangers who are full of kindness, whimsy and compassion. These things matter- the little things, they count too.

The project is called 600 Monsters Strong For Connecticut, and you can find us on Ravelry. If you are short on yarn, no worries; there’s a yarn donation thread. If you need a pattern for an adorable creature to make, the amazing Rebecca Danger has even offered a discount on some of her patterns for this effort.

Looking for other ways you can help?

You could send notes and cards here:

Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

The United Way has started the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to provide help with funeral expenses, counseling and other services. Donations can be sent here:

Sandy Hook Support Fund

℅ Newtown Savings Bank

39 Main St

Newtown, CT 06470

The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund has raised more than $73,750. The fund will be administered by the school PTA, and will be used to provide counseling to survivors, pay for funeral expenses for victims, create a scholarship fund for the school’s students and fund a memorial. Donations can be sent here:

Newtown Memorial Fund

P.O. Box 596

Botsford, CT 06404

The family of Sandy Hook’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, created a memorial fund for the educator, who died trying to stop the gunman. Donations can be sent here:

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund

CT Teachers Credit Union

P.O. Box 2121

Waterbury, CT 06722

Be well. Be safe, be healthy, stay warm. Hug your children. Tell someone you love them. Forgive a friend. Call your parents. If you have the time, join us in making a cuddly comfort creature for a child. But please, but above all: be well.

Eugene, the Friendly Monster, by Kay-H.

Eugene, the Friendly Monster, by Kay-H.

  One thought on “on grief & the work of hands

  1. December 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you for posting this Sarah.

  2. Sean Thomas
    December 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Cards and notes can be sent to:
    Messages of condolences for Newtown
    PO Box 3700
    Newtown, CT 06470

  3. December 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    So wonderfully said. Thank you

  4. December 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Wonderful thoughts in this time of sorrow for my state and our nation

  5. December 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Sarah, thank you.

  6. March 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Sarah, I am a disabled artist. Interested in teaching yoga. I read an article you wrote on the subject that I loved. I have been trying to find a way to contact you. Would you be willing to email me at impetusarts@yahoo.com?

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