"We're looking at a photo of Gavin right now that our sons taped on the wall," Richard Norton, 32, said over the phone from Arizona, where his family has joined him while he works on a business degree.
"Images are important," he said. "(Gavin's) around. He's not forgotten. It sparks conversation."
When the Nortons sat their kids down individually to tell them about Gavin's death, they tried to be mindful of each child's maturity level. Their oldest had just turned 6, their middle child was turning 5, and their littlest was 3.
"We used different language with our 6-year-old than we did with our 3-year-old," said Natalie Norton, 31.
"One thing we did right is, we made it very clear to the children that no matter what they felt, it was OK," she added. "We repeated those words to them. If you're happy, it's OK to be happy. If you're angry, it's OK to be angry. There's no shame or embarrassment."
As parents, the Nortons told themselves the same thing: that there was no such thing as an inappropriate response.
"We cried openly in front of the children," Natalie Norton said. "Behind closed doors, I broke down and acted like a lunatic."
Setting an example of grief and mourning for children is crucial to their development, Rando said. In addition to asking questions, children learn from watching adults. Public examples of grief are instructive for children, but they may not always learn an appropriate lesson.
As attention after Newtown focuses on hot-button issues such as gun control and mental health, children are witnessing anger in response to tragedy.
"We're outraged by what has happened, which is an appropriate reaction," Rando said, but when children witness the devolution of dialogue into aggression and vitriol, it can cause even more damage. Unless children can see examples of respectful conversation following a traumatic event, adults will only be perpetuating aggression, she said.
Children are also seeing examples of adults concerned for the families and community of Newton and wanting to help them. This teaches compassion and positive action as a step in grieving, Rando said.
Richardson, 34, is providing her children with just such an example.
When she learned that Sandy Hook students and teachers were going to attend a school in a neighboring county, she took action to make them feel more at home. Knowing that the teachers would be without the supplies from their old classrooms and the students probably no longer had backpacks, Richardson focused on collecting school supplies to send to Connecticut.
Modeling productive behavior for kids in the face of grief is one way to help them understand it's a part of life, according to Rando.
"It's not just about having an initial reaction and then kind of just petering out," she said.