Right now they are gathering their loved ones possessions, planning memorials and sitting blankly with their head in their hands. They are having trouble going to sleep. They are reliving the moments of when they got the news. They are worrying over the pain their loved one might have suffered, the fear, the confusion. There are families in Connecticut doing this on this very morning as they watch the news about Boston and now the town in Texas and in Pakistan where loved ones lie buried under debris from earthquake damage. They are weeping for their own family’s horror and the the pain in the places just mentioned.
Religious leaders are scrambling to sooth the grieving. And the big question that echoes around the globe is “why?” There are no answers.
There are no solutions to ease the grief. It takes its own time. It works its way out day by day like thorns and splinters – and they come again and again.
God is not behind this. He didn’t mandate the destruction nor is he pulling puppet strings.
There are people He can work through if they let Him. They will provide the arms that hug, the ears to listen, the hands to hold. It is hard work for those people too, because we are very scary to them. You and I are proof that this can happen to anyone. Anyone.
The world is not a safe place.
Often overlooked in my religious tradition is Mary. I have been thinking about Mary again, Mary the mother of Jesus.She had a beautiful son who loved her, looked after her and made her proud. She tried to get him to stay away from dangerous situations but he was a grown man and had his own choices to make, had a higher calling to fulfill.
She was there giving birth in the stable and she was there at the end. She saw him brutalized and hung on a cross and for the rest of her life she had this image emblazoned in her mind. God had come to her when she was young and put her in a potentially deadly situation by making her an unwed mother. Now, the babe grown to be a man was being put to death right before her eyes. Did she ask herself “is it my fault?” Did she question God, “Why? Why after you have put us through so much already?”
I think she did if she was human.
“Why” uttered to the wind falls down like leaves around us. There is no answer.
There is no good answer to why life ends in death- period. And to my thinking it makes no sense if people truly believe there is something better waiting why we cling to life so desperately.
But I do. I still cling. I utter the prayer, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
I am as raw as I was ninety three weeks ago. Each new blow to life chips away at the carefully constructed facade I inhabit.
Then a box comes from a friend. A lovely book she wanted me to have. Yet another box arrives in the mail – some candy – a favorite candy from a friend. God reaches down through the arms and minds that He can and the message says “I haven’t forgotten you either.”
Just a reminder.
So many of the people directly affected are in shock. It will serve as a cushion for a little while but it will wear off and there will be anger and deep, deep grief. Don’t be afraid of them. You won’t catch their grief. You can tell them how sorry your are and that you don’t understand (and please don’t pretend you do unless you have lost a child or loved one) Don’t say “It was God’s will”. You can’t speak for God in that way. Don’t say it was part of some larger plan – you can’t see that far. Today really stinks for them and that is where they are.
It is not going to go away, they are not going to get over it. They have a lot of work cut out for them and they may need to borrow some of your energy.
The memory of this will fade quickly for those not directly affected. The human mind just can’t hold on to that much horror for that long. Those directly affected are now changed – irrevocably.
I really hate having to go over these things again for myself. I hate that these things continue to happen.
No one has figured this out. No one, I don’t care what they say – it is best guess or self soothing Whatever you must do is yours to choose. Based on your personality there will be some things that work better than others. My husband seems to find some semblance of order by keeping very busy with tasks both important and mundane. I seem to function best when my hands are busy with anything from puzzles to knitting. Nothing works all the time. There will be huge waves of sadness.
Sometimes you won’t be able to function at all – at times that make no sense because there is nothing obvious that should be making you feel the way you do – at least on the surface.
And then something horrible will happen to someone else. Some other tragedy, accident, illness or act of aggression. It will happen because we are in an uncontrollable world. As much as you want to help you may find yourself unable, unwilling and your actions may appear cold or uncaring. Right or wrong by whoever’s standards it is self preservation.
There are places to go where there are people who understand and can lend a sympathetic ear. The days, however, are yours to work through and I am sorry. I wish there was a way to make it easier, clearer, more manageable. If you find a way please let us all know.
We are all here still asking why, still struggling, still missing, missing, missing the one we love.