The Open Apology to Orlando This Sandy Hook Mom Shouldn't Have Had to Write

Nelba Marquez-Green Ana Márquez-Greene

What the families of the Orlando shooting victims are experiencing is unfathomably horrible, but tragically, they're not the only ones to have experienced it. And now someone who knows their pain all too well has stepped forward with a heartbreaking message of support: The mother of a 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim.


Nelba Marquez-Greene lost her daughter Ana in the tragic 2012 shootings of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. As someone who suffered such a tremendous loss as the result of a mass shooting, Marquez-Greene was understandably moved when she heard the news about the 49 innocent people killed (and 53 injured) at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando. In fact, as she wrote in a letter posted to her daughter's memorial Facebook page, hearing about the shooting was almost like reliving Sandy Hook.

"My first reaction was visceral. I know the horror of waiting to hear. A helicopter flew overhead. It made everything too real. Too familiar. I panicked. I called my friend. I cried. Fifty people. I am reliving being one of the family members in wait," she wrote. 

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The letter in full honors the victims and their families in a way I'm not sure any other letter ever could. Read it here:

Just gut-wrenching.

I have one message for those families in Florida:

I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. I am sorry that our tragedy here in Sandy hook wasn't enough to save your loved ones. I tried and I won't stop trying. Don't you dare even listen to even ONE person who may insinuate that somehow this is your loved ones fault because they were gay or any other reason. Nor is it God's wrath.

They did that to us on Sandy Hook- too. And it broke my heart. You will receive love from a million places. Embrace it. Take good care of yourself. This will be a forever journey. Some ugly will come your way too. Delete. Ignore. Let it go.

Your loss today will bring out the worst AND the best in all of us. May we commit to being our best selves in honor of what you now bear.

I'm so in awe of this woman and how she's managed to carry on. How she continues to wake up every morning and choose to be hopeful and live her life after going through such immense heartbreak. For the families of the Orlando victims, I'm sure many of the words of condolences they've been receiving ring hollow. After all, how could anyone ever know or understand what they're going through? But this woman knows. This woman understands. She is sorry. So, so sorry.

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And so, of course, are the rest of us. We're sorry Sandy Hook wasn't enough to stop this kind of thing from ever happening again. We're sorry Sandy Hook happened in the first place. But it's true what this mom said: Healing is a forever journey. We can only take it one step at a time.


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