A group of parishioners came together at Praise Tabernacle International Church in Plantation Friday night to try and sort through the emotional anguish that comes with learning of a tragedy so unexplainable like the one in Connecticut.
As images were projected of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the churchgoers gathered in a circle to pray for the families of the victims.
“My heart goes out to the families. It's the holiday season,” said D.H. Dawkins, the pastor of Praise Tabernacle International Church. “I mean, you have Christmas gifts under the tree and now children in the morgue.”
Many churchgoers brought their own kids to pray in an effort to help them cope with the senseless crime.
“It pierced my heart so much so I got home, I got off work a little bit early so that I can get to her,” youth minister Joey Foster said of his 2-year-old daughter, who he was holding in his arms.
Dawkins said the incident “struck a cord with all of us.”
“I'm sure every parent that went home today, grabbed their kids and just loved on them a little bit more,” Dawkins said.
Meantime, at a nearby shopping center, Priscilla Souza, a mother of two, admitted she had been trying to avoid hearing the tragic news all day.
“It upset me and my friend was trying to tell me about it at work and I’m like, I don't know if – I can't handle that,” she said.
Dr. Phillip Lazarus of the National Association of School Psychologists says if your children have heard the news, you should talk to them about it.
“One of the things that I think we need to do in our society is focus much more attention on the emotional well-being of our nation’s youth,” he said.
He said the kids who survived the attack would recover.
“But this will stay with them throughout their entire lifetime,” Lazarus said.