Pozner Family Finds Solace In Newtown's Support

Funerals continue Wednesday for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings, as their friends and families struggle to make sense of the tragedy. The family of 6-year-old Noah Pozner explains how they are beginning to deal with the loss.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, the administration is also facing pressure to weigh in on the debate over gun control in the aftermath of the shootings in Connecticut last Friday. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president would like to reinstate a ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today, President Obama is expected to announce that Vice President Biden will spearhead an interagency task force to come up with a policy response to the tragedy. No specific policy proposals are expected as part of that announcement, though.

GREENE: Now, as that's happening in Washington, funerals continue today for the victims of last week's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Several of the youngest have already been laid to rest.

NPR's Joel Rose spoke to the family of one six-year old who died in the shooting about how they're coping with the loss.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Outside the Town Hall in Newtown, there's an improvised memorial to those who died on Friday, a collection of flowers, candles and teddy bears crowded together on two stone benches.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMERA SHUTTERS)

ROSE: Every few minutes, local residents stop by to snap pictures. The memorial is supposed to comfort the families of the victims. And for at least one parent, that's exactly what it did.

VERONIQUE POZNER: Noah was a ball fire, energy, unrestrainable - love, light, everything, the essence of life.

ROSE: Veronique Pozner's son Noah was killed on Friday. Pozner stopped outside the Town Hall on Tuesday with her parents and teenage daughter. They were taking Noah's youngest sisters to grief counseling.

POZNER: They're coming here because there's solace to be found through petting doggies and talking to grief counselors. Because right now, I'm so splintered and broken, I don't have - I can't give to my children what they need.

ROSE: Pozner's two youngest daughters Noah's twin sister, Ariel, who is in first grade, and Sophia who's in second grade, were also in class at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the morning of the shooting. Veronique Pozner recalls racing to the school from her job as an oncology nurse, and somehow finding her daughters in the chaos of the firehouse next to the school.

POZNER: And then just the awful, awful, awful waiting and wondering. And then, finally, they announced that there had been 20 fatalities of children. And I knew my son was dead. I had been throwing up non-stop. I knew he was dead.

ROSE: Noah was buried on Monday in Fairfield, Connecticut. Since the shooting, Veronique Pozner says she's drawn comfort from the community in Newtown, and from people all over the country. She says it helps to be surrounded by family members who've flown in from as far away as France and Seattle.

MARIE-CLAUDE DUYTSCHAEVER: So what I want to say about Noah was an impish, little rascal.

ROSE: Noah's grandmother, Marie-Claude Duytschaever, lives in Seattle, but caught a plane to Connecticut on Friday as soon as she heard about the shooting. She recalls visiting with Noah on his sixth birthday just a month ago, and helping him put together a Lego toy.

DUYTSCHAEVER: I said Noah, this is not right the way you build it. Yes, it is right. And I...

(LAUGHTER)

DUYTSCHAEVER: At the end, he said, oh, OK, I see. And then he would do it. But his first position was always to argue. He was a born arguer.

ROSE: Veronique Pozner and her family say they're grateful for the state trooper and grief counselors who've helped them since the shooting.

POZNER: Just wonderful angels of God. I mean - and, of course, having my family coming in from far parts to gather together, to support each other because you can't walk this alone. Actually, you can't even crawl it alone.

ROSE: The family says Noah was inseparable from his two young sisters. And the hardest part has been explaining to them that he's not coming back. Veronique Pozner says she's told her children this...

POZNER: That sometimes, that there are people who are tormented inside and they don't think right. And they don't know what they're doing. And sometimes, others have to pay the price of that.

ROSE: A price the Pozners are only beginning to understand.

Joel Rose, NPR News, Danbury, Connecticut.

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