Q&A: Sandy Hook mother shares journey from tragic loss to hope

Nichole S. Gehr

On Dec. 14, 2012 Jennifer Hubbard’s six-year-previous daughter Catherine died when a lone gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary University in Newtown, Conn., and gunned down 20 first-graders and six grown ups before killing himself.  In her struggling, compounded by the close of her marriage and the death of her father, Hubbard grew closer to God and deepened her faith. She found objective and grace in just carrying out the following matter that essential to be accomplished, particularly as she assisted her son, just two many years older than his sister, to also heal from the reduction. God’s light presence was all all-around, as when an error in Catherine’s obituary led to the founding of an animal sanctuary in her honor to be a position of healing and peace. Today, Hubbard is the president and executive director of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a national Catholic speaker and retreat chief, and an award-winning author with Magnificat. Hubbard recounts her path from tragic loss to hope and healing in her reserve, “Finding Sanctuary” (Ave Maria Press, 2021). She not long ago spoke to the Denver Catholic about her journey.  The job interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness. 

DC: How did you find out your six-year-old daughter Catherine experienced died? 

Hubbard: I was called by a buddy who had gotten term that some thing experienced transpired at the faculty. By the time I got there the children experienced been collected in the firehouse that was down the road. The protocol with hearth drills and emergencies was to take a shorter walk down the travel and assemble at the firehouse. When I got to that assembly spot there were a lot of crisis cars. It was to some degree chaotic, but it didn’t just take extensive to get every person arranged. Once it was, it was very evident that there was a complete course missing. We understood there experienced been a taking pictures. Early afternoon it was declared that there were being fatalities mainly because of it. 

DC: What was your initial reaction? 

Hubbard: It was not at all what I think persons would imagine. I don’t feel anyone understands or can anticipate how they will sense in that minute whichever that moment is when you find out your earth is not what it was. It was numbness. In retrospect, I was in shock. The magnitude of what experienced transpired had not even still appear close to me. 

DC: Tragedy can guide persons to or away from perception in God. You write about experiencing God’s existence in your suffering, share a tiny about that. 

Hubbard: The presence that I felt was a quietness and a serenity that I had not at any time experienced ahead of in my lifetime. Partly, I believe that, mainly because all of the interruptions, sounds and busyness of lifetime in a day-to-day ordinary earth were being ripped away. There were being the original preparations of a funeral and notifying men and women and working with the ritual of burying and loss of life. After we’d gotten through that, everyday living grew to become really tranquil.  

That quietness is where by I definitely found out God in the pursuing months and months. Through prayer and in just doing the up coming most effective thing — just executing what was appropriate in entrance of me. Interestingly, I uncovered that that is just wherever God actually needs us and where by he will speak to us most loudly. It is not in the dashing all-around and the striving of “I need to have to be bigger and better and accomplished or set on a faith.” God has programs and motives for us to live in the minute. For me, some days it was simply having out of mattress and packing a lunch box and getting there when my son got off the bus. That’s the place God wished me and the place I found his calming presence and peace. 

DC: What role did journaling participate in in your healing and had you journaled prior to the tragic reduction of Catherine? 

Hubbard: Journaling wasn’t automatically some thing that was component of my every day regimen, but it was anything I was acquainted with. I was in the grocery shop and this female, her eyes spoke volumes, she seemed at me with this sort of a being aware of and mentioned, “You ought to create it all down since you are not heading to don’t forget anything at all.”  

I began crafting factors down, additional so in regard to my prayer lifestyle, which is something that was a section of my life prior to Catherine died, albeit a more compact sliver of my day. My journals promptly following Catherine’s death were extremely properly appointed and incredibly effectively scripted and I would pull out internet pages that I did not think seemed wonderful.  My journals nowadays are a reflection of my coronary heart a coronary heart that’s not hoping to be anything at all other than what it is.  

DC: Your time of mourning Catherine’s death included fallout with your spouse and children, the sickness and demise of your father, and the finish of your relationship. Were you offended with God and what did you do with that anger? 

Hubbard: I wouldn’t say offended, even though at moments it’s probably an exact description…more so unhappy and perplexed. In advance of Catherine died, I was rising in my faith — it was rich and alive and on hearth. I seriously felt like I was leaning in to where ever God was leading me. I feel a lure many of us who follow [Christ] fall into is pondering, I’m a good and devoted servant, why are negative factors occurring to me?  If you love me God, why would you do this to me?  

I was at a stoplight at a Stop & Shop. I started out grumbling, it gained traction, snowballed and ended with me Iashing-out at God. I discovered I was not heading to be punished due to the fact of questions I had or disappointments I felt. Now I’m quick to launch people feelings mainly because God knows what our hearts are feeling and imagining and his purpose for us is that we can hand these to him and leave them with him in a rely on and a realizing that he will take them and he will make them correct. When he does it will be in a most impressive way. It may well not even transpire in my lifetime but that’s Alright, mainly because at the finish of day God’s program is fantastic.  

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DC: How did you find the way to forgiveness and peace? 

Hubbard: It was a sluggish transformation. There is no ebook or checklist or roadmap that any individual can pick up and say, I’m going to do these 5 methods and at the close I’ll be at peace. I wish there was — that would be so wonderful! Where by I discovered it, was in just taking the daily moments and appreciating them for what they are. And not imagining as well much further than what I could take care of.  

At the beginning of this very long journey, it was just the future day. I could not consider outside of that. Above time, as therapeutic settled in my soul, what I uncovered is I could glimpse a bit further — I could hope for what was to occur, and the desires and the concepts of what my entire world could possibly seem like. I was able to ponder on them and turn into hopeful.  

At some point, I was in a position to appear back again and see exactly where I’d been and considered, Oh my gosh, I’m in a seriously great area. When I search at seasons of my life — going through divorce, the loss of my father — now I have a have faith in: there was a way forward in advance of and there will be a way forward in this instance. I’m a great deal faster to settle my soul.  

DC: Have you been able to forgive the shooter?  

Hubbard: I have. I have hardly ever seriously felt a need to seem at his household or actively say, I forgive you. I constantly had a perception of, since of some of the floor guidelines we established as a family, we’re not to decide. That is a massive launch. That also usually means not holding individuals ransom. Which is not my occupation. I want to be forgiven and I look for forgiveness every day for the items that I do. So, who am I to not increase the same?  

DC: The omission of a phrase in your daughter’s obituary prompted an unexpected come across that led to founding the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary. Share a bit about that providential encounter. 

Hubbard: It was just a full omission error. We have been composing the obituary and filling in the blanks on the type. The question was: In lieu of bouquets, what do we want? What was Catherine’s lead to? As a six-12 months-old it is not like she had a charity she supported. Her coronary heart was animals. We decided on the Animal Control Center, which is the pound. But we left out the phrase “control.” There’s really an Animal Centre of Newtown, which was four gals. They rescued cats and experienced just started rescuing dogs. They showed up at our home a number of weeks later and said, “We’ve received around $100,000 in donations in Catherine’s memory and want to know what you want us to do with this cash.” (The ladies shared that they envisioned an animal sanctuary.) 

DC: It appears God truly furnished the fingers and usually means for the animal sanctuary to happen. Would you like to share a little about how it came with each other? 

Hubbard: The sanctuary has been a number of grace right after grace right after grace experiences. From the property that was gifted to us by the state of Connecticut — 34 acres — to the folks that have arrive all-around us. It’s a tangible reminder of God’s provision in our lives. There is no way that without his divinity in the relocating elements and bringing the people together — people who have labored pro-bono, the men and women who have supported it — that it would be what it is today. It actually is a area for me exactly where heaven and earth collide powerfully.  

DC: Your book Locating Sanctuary recounts your therapeutic journey. Who is the guide for and what would you like people to acquire absent from it? 

Hubbard: It’s for any individual who has long gone as a result of or is in the midst of likely by a period of darkness and trauma. It’s for any individual instantly impacted or included with someone suffering from decline: the decline of a career, of a cherished one, reduction of marriage. My hope is that it can give some hope.  

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