Friday, January 22, 2016

Breaking news breaks our hearts

Edit Posted by with 18 comments
From the moment the general public was informed that little Noah Chamberlin was missing, people began to feel emotionally invested. When the photo of the two-year-old blond child with bright blue eyes appeared on every screen, people felt connected to this beautiful boy.

Noah Chamberlin

As the daylight dwindled that first day, anxiety grew and fear crept in when he wasn’t found right away. In this day and age, with our seemingly limitless technology and resources, how can this be? How can a child simply disappear in the woods without leaving a trace? How can this baby still be missing? Why can’t this child be found right this instant? It hardly seemed right. It certainly wasn’t fair that such a tiny little thing was alone in the woods after dark. I think that is when anger began to appear. 

We all eyed our own children and grandchildren and felt a tremendous pang of sadness that was often expressed with one simple phrase: “I cannot imagine.” Society could not accept that this boy would be spending the night away from home. We couldn’t cope with the thought of this baby being hungry, cold, and lonely. We didn’t know how anyone could cope with their child or grandchild still missing past his bedtime. This isn’t right, and it can’t be happening. Not in this day and age. Not to such a small child. And the anger began to grow. 

None of us could comprehend how this could be happening. None of us wanted to accept the news that a small child was spending the night curled up in the dark woods, away from his mother and without his supper. None of us wanted to imagine any of this, because this isn’t supposed to happen. The world has changed so much during our lifetime. Satellites show us photographs of every square inch of the planet. Webcams are available for a live look at what’s happening in many of our favorite places. People have cured various diseases and can even correct some medical issues while a child is still in the womb. We can do all these things, yet we cannot find this baby and bring him home. This isn’t supposed to happen. Not in this day and age. Not to such a small child. 

The world is filled with knowledge, and we’re accustomed to having unlimited information at our fingertips. Clickety-click-click, and presto! The answer to any burning question appears on the screen. The solution to almost any problem is provided in mere seconds. But, all the clicking in the world couldn’t bring Noah home that night. All their efforts didn’t end with Noah tucked into his bed. And our sadness began to convert to anger.

Hours turned into days. There were no answers. We wanted answers. We needed answers, but there were none to be had. We waited anxiously for each update, and every press conference became more frustrating. Why is this happening? Where is this precious baby? Why can’t our amazing technology find this child? Our fear and our worry grew to a boiling point, and, much like a whistling teapot, people needed to let off some steam. The anger boiled over. 

Strong emotions emerged all around. Noah was no longer a stranger to any of us. He was our baby. This angel became everyone's baby, and we all felt an intense love for him. Everyone wanted this child to be in the warmth of his home, with a full belly and a smile. We all wanted to hear the news that Noah was found and was going home. We’re spoiled. We are used to instant gratification. And, none of us wanted anything more than knowing this child was okay, and we demanded it right this instant. And we couldn’t have that. Every time we heard the news that there was no news, our frustrations mounted and our hope grew dim. Our hearts were heavy, and we collectively shouted. Some shouted in support of those on the ground, and some shouted in anger that such great efforts weren’t working. Both sides were equally passionate. Both sides only wanted Noah to be safe and back at home. 

Frustration, sadness, grief, and anxiety manifest as anger in many. It’s part of the grieving process itself, yet people still seem to have a hard time accepting anger in these situations. I can explain it, because I live it and have lived it for decades. 

You see, sadness and grief are something you must personally experience on a deep level. It consumes us and leads us to a dark place in our psyche that is difficult, sometimes impossible, with which to cope. These emotions affect some of us too deeply, and almost everyone has experienced this stage of grief at some point as they desperately tried to feel anything other than sadness. You get mad, and that’s okay. It’s normal. It’s part of the grieving process. We have all heard this before, but why is anger a display of grief and sadness? I’ll tell you why. A person is not forced to fully experience this emotion. Anger can be displaced and projected, letting a little steam off the boiling teapot and bringing emotions to a level where a person can better cope. 

So, why did things become so heated during the wait for Noah to be found? Why did people lash out and show such anger at a time when people needed support? It’s very simple. Many of them couldn’t cope with what was happening. Tension grew as sadness took hold, and the result was an explosion of rage so powerful that it rivaled a volcanic eruption. And while some will never be able to understand, and some will most certainly think the world is filled with heartless people, know this:

We felt the same thing inside. We felt those same emotions you did. We wanted the outcome to be different, just as you did. We spent sleepless nights checking feeds over and over and hoping for good news, just as you did. We were glued to our feeds every day hoping for the slightest bit of hope, just as you were. When we had no answers and our hearts were so heavy, our emotional displays differed. Some of us aren’t as strong and were forced to revert to anger. I know, because the heartache was too much for me to bear and reverting to anger was the only way to prevent a complete breakdown. 

You see, I don’t simply bounce back from a breakdown. I will often linger in limbo for months, desperately trying to find a reason for living. (That is another story for another day.) While I kept my anger hidden from public view and scrutiny, I vented my anger privately and hoped to maintain my own sanity. As a mother and grandmother, this is the unthinkable thing of nightmares. This is the absolute worst fear. This is the most heartbreaking thing. Words escape me, as I don’t know how to explain just how horrible this is. I know you feel this same intense sorrow. I know you do. And even though we might not express our overwhelming grief in the same manner, we’re all doing the best we can to find a way to cope with this until we can find a way to accept it and make peace with it.

With a Heavy Heart,


  1. I commend you on writing a great piece that does a great job on explaining the natural process of how the hurt and anger connect physiologically. You did a wonderful job trying to do this in a mature and sympathetic way. However, I personally do not agree that this excuses the behavior of so many and they way have lashed out on social media during this tragedy.
    I agree the nation all wanted one outcome here and it any human with any compassion at all has been deeply saddened of the outcome, myself included. You state one sentence in your blog that everyone needs to put more thought in "I Can't Imagine". There has been so much accusations and ugly opinions put on social media that it's heartbreaking. I pray the grandmother is one of her generation that doesn't participate on facebook.
    It is one thing to have thoughts of speculation and opinions and even discuss them amongst yourselves, but to put it out there on social media for the family and friends to see is another.
    I am also the grandmother of a little boy who just turned 3, my husband made a statement that I think everyone voicing their opinions publically should think about for a second. He said "If that was me (speaking as a grandparent), I wouldn't be able to live myself anymore".
    When then autopsy results are released and if they show no foul play, everyone guilty of making accusations should personally apologize.
    There are so many what if's here and these people from grandmother to sheriff will have to live with that on their minds from now on. I can't even imagine the heartache and grief of losing a child or grandchild, much less the imagine the guilt of knowing what if you had done something different.

    1. I cannot comment on those who made accusations against the family because I'm not included in that group. This was not meant to condone persecution of the family itself, nor was it meant to excuse some of the vilest behavior. I can only say that I understand the anger and frustration experienced by many, and I wanted people to know it's okay to feel anger when they're sad. It's a normal human response during grief. As for the rest, I chose not to acknowledge it and draw further attention to it.

      As a mother of four and a grandmother of a sweet 19-month-old girl, I cannot imagine any of it. My heart breaks for them. But this isn't an abnormal reaction. Every tragic news story draws this same response, even those involving small children. This one just hits close to home. Regardless, this is a horrible, terrible tragedy.

  2. You are so right, and thank you for writing this piece. On another note and this is only my opinion. I believe the accusations came from people that was angry and did not want to believe that this boy was in those woods suffering. They made claims that he was not in the woods that someone took him or this or that. Because in their mind that would of been better. (I was not one of those people) I am just giving my opinion on where is all came from. I was hoping that he was not in those woods but I never made a social media statement about it. Now that his body has been found, I think people still do not want to believe that he suffered so it is easier for them to place other solutions in their mind. What they don't understand is this hurts a family that is already grieving for their little angel. (I personally believe the families story) I did go to Pinson to offer my help in the search. I witnessed a grieving community that was all pulling together for one reason to find baby Noah. I witnessed people coming from miles and miles to help. I witnessed businesses and other peoples out pour of donations. I witnessed LOVE in this community. I myself felt heartbroken and hurt. I wished I could of found that sweet baby alive. I wish that someone, anyone would of searched a little deeper. But that is those what if's. Thank you again for this story and you are right on the grieving process and sometime angry does surface.

    1. I think so, too. I think people desperately wanted to believe anything that kept hope alive. It's a terrible, horrible thing.

      And the community rallying to find this angel? It says a lot about the people here. Considering the number of people who traveled to get here, it says a lot about people.