Devastating tornados. A ten-year old killed and her parents injured when her house was riddled with bullets. A soldier is hacked to death with a cleaver in front of witnesses on a city street. Most of us are less than six-degrees of separation from the endless stream of violence, death, and destruction engulfing our globe.
A newer, more graphic story replaces the previous tragedy so quickly that a completely new array of headlines surfaces each time you refresh your screen. The names, locations, and details may change, but the drama continues. We’re aware, but not observant unless a particular tragedy swirls within our purview. We’re affected, but don’t have time to deconstruct each tragedy’s damage, before the next wave comes along.
Life goes on, but it’s not the same. There’s a shift in us and a new experience threads itself in the tapestry of our lives.
It’s been almost six months since my brother’s death. I have experienced grief and all of its nuanced forms hundreds of times, but my brother’s self-inflicted gun shot pierced my heart in a new place. I may appear to be as I was before his death, but I’m not the same. Yes, my life has gone on, but it is different. It must be different because someone who was an integral part of who I am is now no longer a vital part of my life. His death, in addition to his life, is now woven into the new narrative of my life.
That’s how it is for every single person who is impacted by violence, death, illness, suffering, and destruction. Life temporarily stops with The Event. Family and friends rally around. The Event and it’s aftermath run their course. Family and friends resume their lives. Eventually you resume your changed life.
While it’s not the same for everyone, I believe there are three attributes that can sustain us as we merge back into the current of life: hope, healing, and help. Consider this post the introduction and I will explore each in more depth in subsequent blog posts.
In the meantime, cogitate on this:
Blessed be … the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God (II Corinthians 1:3-4).
Carve out a few minutes every day to pray for – meditate on, be thoughtful or mindful of – others who are going through something similar to you. (As news of my brother’s death circulated, so many people I knew had a family member, spouse or partner, or close friend who died by suicide.) You don’t need to know them. Maybe you saw a headline or heard about someone. Write down their name and pray for them.