The thing about an unfathomable tragedy is that it never really goes away. Some of the details of what happened might fade from memory over time and blend into the fabric of the culture of the community, but the hard reality of the occurrences remain just under the surface.

Perhaps that is as it should be. As some wise person once said, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it and there are some things in history that just don’t deserve to be repeated.

The wrongful death of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary school in southwest Connecticut in December 2012 is one such event. A disturbed young man killed 20 children and six adult caretakers. He also killed his own mother and later took his own life.

As we near the third anniversary of that day, many are very likely reliving that trauma. Helping stir the embers are various legal actions that continue to play out in the courts.

For example, just about a month ago, a judge in Bethel approved payment of $1.5 million from the estate of the gunman’s mother to the families of 16 Sandy Hook victims. As a result of the settlement, each family is expected to receive some $97,000. As one attorney for the families notes, the action may bring some sense of justice but no amount of money can adequately make up for the losses that were suffered.

And some days after that, several families of victims of the shooting filed a new legal action against the National Rifle Association in connection with the case. Their claim to the State Elections Enforcement Commission is that the NRA illegally redirected money from a federal political action committee to the state’s gubernatorial campaign last year in a bid to bolster the campaign of a gun-rights candidate.

The gun lobby group denies the charge and calls the allegations baseless, but a similar action in Rhode Island led to the NRA being fined for making improper political contributions.

The loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence takes its toll in many ways. The court’s may be able to offer some measure of compensation, but it does require the active exercising of one’s rights.