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Candlelight Vigil for Sandy Hook Elementary Helps Locals Pray, Heal

Emotional gathering at the Giving Room in Southold helps many cope with Friday's unthinkable tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Southold might be miles away from Newtown, Conn. But when news broke last Friday afternoon of upwards of 20 children — all ages 6 and 7 — and six adults were shot dead in an act of violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School so horrific many could not even wrap their minds around it, local people were just as shocked as anyone in the country.

Paula DiDonato and others at the Giving Room, a yoga and meditation studio in Southold, gave many an opportunity to finally really grieve and pray for the 26 who died that day, read their names and short biographies of the heroic teachers and administrators of the school aloud, and meditate and pray around a circle of 26 lit candles Wednesday night.

Local artist Terrence Joyce, known for infusing spiritualism into his paintings of local vistas, lead the group in meditation in the candlelight.

"We think about the beautiful little lives that have been here and are now gone, and with the lightness in us, the stuff around our hearts, the glow and energy, we just let it out toward them — the little spirits, the bigger spirits, going on toward wherever they are going now," he said during the meditation session.

"The joy and the good things we’ve received all of our lives, we can't hold on to that — we can embrace them for a minute, but then we let them go and that might be all we can offer these souls and the souls of the families with such tightness around their hearts, some of this beauty we've found here today."

Joyce said after the emotional ceremony that he believed many in the room, some of whom have children just as young as those taken from their parents in Connecticut, needed this moment in a time when busy schedules often don’t allow for true grieving.

“It’s hard enough to think about let alone process emotionally,” said the artist, who used to host mindful meditation sessions at his Greenport studio when it was open. "I hope this helped."

DiDonato, the founder of the Giving Room, said that she also believed that healing thoughts and prayers, no matter where they are coming from, impact people positively

“I’ve seen it happen. The sorrow is so deep here," she told Patch earlier. “But the prayers and thoughts coming from across the world must be having a positive impact on these people.”

Jamesport resident Diane Gunder, a fitness instructor at Five Branches Wellness in Greenport, said she attended the vigil to be with her community and to send love to another 150 miles away. The mother of two children, ages 5 and 7, said she did not watch television or listen to any news as the tragedy unfolded — and her kids still do not know that it happened.

“I’d rather them not know about the level of violence some people are capable of and have them live in fear,” she said. “I’d rather have them live in love."

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