Grief Journal

“Mommy, Why Is the Flag Still At Half-Mast?”

“Mommy, Why’s The Flag Still At Half-mast?”
Written by Jacqueline Miller

I started writing this yesterday. And I flippantly put that I was nervous about including statistics on how many school shootings there’ve been this year (22 at that point) because the number might change by the time it’s published, and it might change again before it reaches the readers’ eyeballs.

Well. It did change.

This morning, there was a school shooting. And this time, it was an hour away from my home in Indiana. Quiet, cornfield Indiana.

This is the world we’re living in.


A year ago we bought a house with a flagpole out front. I’d never had a flagpole, but I knew two things:

  1. I needed to get a couple spotlights to shine on the flag at night, and

  2. I needed pay attention to when to lower it to half mast.

In the past year, I’ve had to lower our flag more times than I could have imagined.

Two days ago, when I pulled into the driveway after collecting my kids from school, my youngest asked, “Why’s the flag at half-mast?”

The oldest replied, “School shooting.”

“But it was already at half-mast for a school shooting,” my 10-year-old questioned.

The 12-year-old explained, “Yeah, that was a different one.”

That’s the world we’re living in. We can’t even keep track of which school shooting has our flag lowered today.

And the question, always there in my kids’ worried faces: “Will it be our town next?”

I wish I could reassuringly tell them, “Of course not!”

But now, today, there was a school shooting just an hour from here. Three people are hurt, and a community is in shock.

And all I can tell my children is, “I hope not. I hope our town’s not next.”

Because that’s the world we’re living in.

About the author

Jacqueline Miller

Jacqueline Miller is a freelance journalist who uses a pseudonym when writing about her children to protect their privacy. She lives in the Midwestern United States with her husband, two sons and a rescue mutt. Find her at