Monday, December 17, 2012

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

I tucked my seven-year-old daughter into bed about an hour ago. I prayed with her and sang our traditional bedtime song. Then I aimed the floor fan into the lower bunk so she could sleep comfortably in the tropical night.
I just went back into her room to check on her. She lay there in her Minnie Mouse t-shirt and white shorts. Her dark hair fanned out on the Strawberry Shortcake pillowcase, and her arm was flung up over her head. She lay there sound asleep, totally unaware that I sat beside her on the edge of her bed.
As I sat there in the tropical humidity watching my precious child sleep, in my mind I traveled halfway around the world to chilly Connecticut where a couple hours ago, families woke up for the third morning to empty beds. No little boy hair sticking up with bed head. No tousled little girl curls on Strawberry Shortcake pillowcases.
I am sure it will be a long time before the sharp agonizing pain of the tragic loss becomes a dull ache. For now, ordinary things will bring the tragedy crashing in anew. An empty chair at the breakfast table. A favorite toy that little hands will never play with. A child’s toothbrush that will never be used. Christmas presents already purchased for a child who will never open them. Christmas stockings carefully packed away since last year will be brought out in another week and will bring a fresh wave of grief.
Maybe in some of those homes, a mother sorts dirty laundry. She finds a small t-shirt that her precious child will never wear again. She holds that shirt up to her face, and breathes in the smell that belongs uniquely to her little one. She sinks to the laundry room floor and weeps at the enormity of her loss.
Perhaps a father stands in the garage staring at a sled hanging up on the wall. He remembers the rosy cheeks and the laughter of his child as he pulled the sled up the hill with its precious cargo in tow not so very long ago. No matter how many other children he may have, that one face will be missing this winter. And the pain crashes in anew.
There is no way I can possibly comprehend the pain and loss these families have experienced. Even so, as I write this, my eyes are blurred by tears. From halfway around the world, I join with millions of others in grieving the loss of these little ones and the educators who died alongside them. I ache for those whose lives are forever altered by this tragedy. I cry for the surviving children who saw things that no child should ever have to see.
As we grieve with the families and friends of the shooting victims in Newtown, we may wish we could do something for them. Certainly, we can pray for them, and we should. But we probably can’t provide a shoulder for them to cry on when they need it.
Perhaps, we can take that desire to offer comfort, and reach out to someone nearby who is facing the first Christmas without someone they love. Their losses may or may not be as fresh as the tragic deaths of the victims in Connecticut, but to them, the loss is every bit as real, every bit as deep, every bit as painful.
We can weep with those who weep. We can mourn with those who mourn. We can walk with them, beside them, offering the love of Jesus who wept with his own friends when they experienced a great loss. We don’t need to provide answers. We can simply be there, quietly present with those who are going through dark valleys of their own.

Mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15b


  1. Beautiful. I've read a lot of commentary, watched some videos, and tried to avoid the individual stories, because I knew how hard it would be to personalize the tragedy. But what you wrote was more to the point and honest and true than all that media coverage. Your mother's heart is strong and it gave you beautiful passages that made me look at this event with eyes of our Father, rather than a sad critic.

    Mourn with those who mourn. I don't know how many times I've told this to my young former student facebook friends who lack the maturity to come to terms with this event without being political or asinine. Maybe it takes being a parent. But it shouldn't.

    1. Thanks Chris. I just reread my own post and it still brings tears. I think most people want to DO something when they hear of a senseless tragedy like this. DO something that will make sure it doesn't happen again. And so follows all the commentary and criticism of the powers that be. In the meantime, the personal tragedy gets lost. These are people who are hurting...not policies. There will be a time to grapple with policies. But for now, let's just open our hearts to the people who need someone to listen and cry with them...whether they are halfway around the world...or down the street.


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