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The Shame of Blamestorming After a Tragedy

I’m speechless with sadness for the Krim family.

My heart broke as I read the New York Times article this morning, describing the murder of the Krim children by their nanny. Every mother’s worst fear. My mind wandered the empty hallways of her apartment with her as I read. It leapt out of my chest and fell to the floor. It’s our worst fear but unless we’ve gone through similar, we cannot really imagine it fully, can we? Our thoughts play out on the inner screen of our fears like a horror film, stirring deep emotions.

Then the blamestorming begins. Who was this woman she hired anyways? What kind of background check did she do? Did she really need a nanny?

I want to hold up my hand to stop you. Please. Stop.

Figuring out where things went wrong is a natural, predictable human behavior. We want to learn from a tragedy so that we can avoid it in the future. If we figure out the broken piece – be it mental, physical, or social, we can prevent the terrible things from happening ever again, right? That’s the logic.

How soon after this crime became public, were the victims being blamed? It’s a sentiment alluded to in The Times article – that perhaps Mrs Krim should not have hired a nanny. That somehow this “excess” led to the death of her children. It’s a ridiculously cruel and unfounded idea. Would she be as harshly judged if she were a struggling single mother with no choice but to hire help to work?

The wealthy are easy targets. Money is supposed to protect you from tragedies, after all.

But that is the real lesson here. It is a tough lesson to accept. Nothing can protect you from a senseless tragedy. Nothing. No amount of wealth or privilege or background checks or lessons or religion or morality or whatever the blamestormers want to dish, could serve as a shield.

People screw up and sometimes, thankfully quite rarely,  they snap. These things happen and often without warning. When they do happen, the victims are sentenced to replay every second of their lives leading up to that moment. They will question every decision. They will fall into the black hole of “what if?” No matter what we say to them.

It’s not our job as a society to push the victims into that black hole of doubt and self loathing. We need to be strong and sensible for them, and ultimately for ourselves and our own children and society at large.

It’s ridiculous to say that having a nanny is the problem.  Criminal behavior doesn’t choose one profession as it’s champion. There are psychotic lawyers, plumbers, and teachers as well. Should we treat all hires as suspect? How can we decide what level of background investigation is sufficient? How can we ever just trust our gut? Perhaps we should we lock up our children in a tower, away from all human contact other than family till they are grown.

Except family members can snap too.

Human beings need to rely on each other. At some point we need to simply trust, as difficult as that is and as counter-intuitive as it seems when you read news like this. There’s no shield. No agency will give you a guarantee. Life doesn’t come with guarantees against tragedy. Would that it did.

Blamestorming in this way – blaming the victim for a perfectly common and reasonable practice,  is a shameful act.

I’m just shattered for this family and will keep them in my prayers. I will pray that they can heal, and find love and a measure of peace in their lives one day. I hope they will receive love and light and support from their community so that their faith in humanity, which is surely destroyed right now, can someday grow again.  I will pray that this blamestorming stops, soon and hope that their community, families and friends do their best to shield them from it.

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