Our community has been shaken this week by the tragic and sudden loss of one of our young people in a car crash that took the lives of three others and has left another in critical condition. Along with our loss, there are three other communities like ours grieving and another praying like their own life depended on it. And we all fall under an umbrella that binds us together – a university community of which these girls were a part. The circle of grief seems to be ever growing, welcoming us all in.
Knowing that each of these young women is someone’s baby girl, someone’s childhood friend, someone’s sister, someone’s confidant and late night fast food companion, only widens the circumference to an incomprehensible proportion. Losing someone at such a young age and in such a sudden way feels almost surreal. Multiplying that by 4 only complicates our ability to grasp what is happening.
I’m no expert on grief, but I do find myself in the middle of it on a regular basis. Part of what I do for a living is walk with people in and through their grief. I offer words of comfort and hope. I provide a shoulder to cry on and sometimes a target to rail at. And one thing I do know is that we grieve not only over the loss of a person, but we grieve over all the intangibles. Without warning that circle of grief turns into an monstrous Venn diagram.
When I suffered a miscarriage early in a pregnancy, I mourned not only the loss of a child. I mourned the plans that we had begun to make. I mourned the idea of having two children. And even mourned the thought that pregnancy was easy for me. You understand. Anyone who has gone through loss – whether it be loss of life, loss of a job, loss of something else – you know that loss is greater than what others may see. The loss permeates the very air you breathe.
And so today, we mourn. We mourn a young woman who was kind, funny, faithful. We grieve the loss of her gregarious smile and we mourn the way her eyes squinted so adorably when she did it. There is a loss of who she was in the circle of life and we mourn what that means for her family.
And as we struggle with the acute loss of that precious life, we begrudgingly recognize that we have more mourning to do. The loss of security, control, protection, invincibility. The loss of innocence and independence. The loss of the future looking the way we planned. The list could go on.
I guess what I’m saying is let’s be gentle with one another in these days, recognizing that we – all of us – mourn the loss in some way. The beauty and tragedy of our humanity is that somewhere our circles intersect. May God give us the strength and courage to hold the pieces of each other’s hearts together even as our own may be breaking.