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When something like the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, happens, you wonder how in the world the parents ever go on? It has been four months now and the grief and pain is more than evident. But underneath, there is something else.
Noah Pozner loved wearing his brown winter jacket. He brought it to school at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, the day he and 19 other children were killed.
“It’s the things you hold on to when you have nothing left,” says Noah’s mother, Veronique Pozner.
Noah's parents share their family's story in People Magazine, clutching that same brown coat that a state trooper later tracked down and returned to them. Pozner sums up her grief, saying it's agonizing to see your baby's name on a tombstone.
“Noah was definitely a very vivacious little boy. He loved his family," she says. "He has left an unimaginable void that just is not replaceable.”
Never replaceable, never forgotten and always loved is the story of these families. As hard as it is to contemplate, they wanted to share that out of this horrific tragedy comes goodness and light.
Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan, who was just 6 years old at the time of the shooting, says she has seen the worst the world has to offer and the best. Her son died in the arms of teacher aide Anne Marie Murphy.
“To know that she was trying to protect him and was with him at the end has provided some comfort,” she tells People, “because to know that he wasn’t alone and that even in those last moments he was with someone who truly loved him and cared for him and that she was looking after him.”
Daniel Barden was 7 years old. His sister holds his last letter to Santa. He didn't ask for toys, he just wanted to see Santa and the reindeer. His father, Mark Barden, says his son’s legacy was his beautiful heart.
“He really did think of other people,” he says. “He held doors for perfect strangers. He was kind and affectionate.” Daniel’s mother, Jackie, adds, “he was nice to anyone he met.”
His family wants people to remember not what happened at Sandy Hook elementary, but these words: "What would Daniel do?" They have started a Facebook page to encourage people to adopt a practice of kindness.
Other Newtown families have found ways for their children to be remembered. Catherine Hubbard loved animals so much she made business cards that read "Catherine's Animal Shelter, Catherine Hubbard, caretaker to the animals." Her family has started an animal shelter in her honor
Single mother Scarlett Lewis still feels moments of profound grief. But she also feels immense love.
“I feel my purpose is to perpetuate the message that has been created, basically, by this tragedy, which is choosing love,” she says. "You see signs all over this town – Newtown and Sandy Hook choose love."
She stayed with family immediately after learning of her son Jesse's death. But when she returned home she found a message scribbled in child’s writing that said “Nurturing Healing Love." Lewis has started an organization called JesseLewisChooselove.org. Others have formed similar groups.
If you are interested in helping the families of Newtown victims, please visit these individual efforts for more information:
Daniel Bargen | Facebook.com/WhatWouldDanielDo
Olivia Engel | newtownparkandbark.org
Josephine Gay | dougflutiejrfoundation.org/Donate-Joeys-Fund.asp
Dylan Hockley | dylanhockley.com
Catherine Hubbard | theanimalcenter.org/sanctuary
Jesse Lewis | jesselewischooselove.org
Emilie Parker | emilieparkerfund.com
Noah Pozner | noahpozner.org
Jessica Rekos | teamjessicarekos.org
RELATED: People Magazine Managing Editor Larry Hackett discusses why it was so important to revisit this tragedy. (VIDEO)