Grace for All in the Shadow of Tragedy

Someone was murdered, in a most terrible way. They were young, they were positive, they had no reason to die, let alone in such an unthinkable way.

In the midst of this we are left with a jarring disconnection. This goes against everything we think of the way the world should be.We have fear, grief, anger…all of these deep emotions trying to make sense of such a senseless act. How are we to process such an unthinkable situation?

In this, some will attempt to disconnect themselves from this person. This might be as benign as focusing on her celebrity status, and might become as severe as turning focus instead to other, more heinous realities in our world, like the deaths of many younger than her due to war, famine, and poverty.

Some will turn to change to help deal with the pain. They will focus on what they believe, in this moment of emotional distress, must be the solutions to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Talk of gun control will inevitably pop up.

Both of these will obviously upset those that in unthinkable moments, believe strongly in the purity of grief. Those who say that pushing an agenda or focusing on the overarching reality of the unthinkable pains in our world are diminishing the sadness of this individual tragedy. Like someone telling you your problems pale in comparison to the starving children in some 3rd world country.

Many will turn to belief. To prayer, to good vibes, to heartfelt thoughts being sent. This will inevitably frustrate the changers. They will see this as a cop out.

And this grief will manifest itself in many other ways as well. Complex combinations of the above. Reactions to reactions to reactions will start to surface, all clouded by the pain and emotion of the unthinkable. Ultimately, I think the thing we need to realize is that we are all struggling, as human beings, to process the unthinkable. To mentally handle a situation we were not prepared or ready to think through. Something we thought couldn’t happen.

I may well disagree with some of these methods as being healthy or helpful to anyone. But in the shadow of tragedy, I choose instead to have grace for all trying to process. I encourage you all to understand that there is a struggle, inherent in all of us, to come to terms with such tragedy, and that might manifest itself in ways you are not used to, not comfortable with, or even not okay with. But, try not to start fights, or be critical of others in this moment. Have grace. Allow people to process this information in their way. If you feel someone is “using this tragedy to push their agenda” or “not respecting this person as a human” that may be true, but realize those people are also struggling. And fighting with them on the internet isn’t going to help. Grief is messy. We need not add to the mess by being quick to criticize.

Because the people who move to political reform and just trying to figure out a way to limit the amount of pain we will experience in the future. Those who appeal to the purity of grief just want to focus first and foremost on the memory of those who are lost. Those who turn to belief and prayer are trying to process the unfathomable through something beyond them, and those who move to what they believe to be the greater societal issues see tragedy as a mirror, that reminds them of how much work is still to be done in our world. None of these are the right or wrong way to deal with grief. And my opinion on one persons reaction to grief isn’t important. What is important is that I love and respect people, and I choose to not judge, but to have grace with them in their time of mourning and processing.

Love and grace to all,


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