Friday, December 14, 2012

Grief & Loss

[Johnathan Clayborn]
My heart at aches heavily at the news of the shooting at Sandy Point Elementary School earlier this morning. As of this writing the estimates are that 27 people are dead and 18 of them are school children, most of them in Kindergarten. This really hits home for me as my own son, William, is in first grade and is almost the same age as many of these victims.

Grief is complex, powerful emotion. Zoologists have shown that even animals feel grief. Grief can be slight or it can be completely and totally debilitating. It can just appear suddenly without warning, particularly in cases where the grief is the result of a disaster or catastrophe.

What’s rather interesting is how we handle grief. For one thing, if people perish as the result of a natural disaster; a flood, a hurricane, etc, then it seems like we have a somewhat easier time dealing with that. Sure, there is still grief, particularly for those who lost loved ones, but we sort of recognize on some level that the situation was completely out of our hands. However, when the grief is the result of an act of senselessness, like this shooting, we have a much harder time processing this. Part of that seems to be due to the fact that perpetrators of these heinous acts actually have a choice. They are choosing to commit these acts and they are choosing to take the lives of others. When we cannot process what thought patterns would lead a human being to make such a senseless, irrational decision, we falter in our ability to process and handle the grief.

Another strange quirk of grief; grief is amplified by its proximity to salvation. You might be wondering what I mean by that. Suppose that you have a plane full of people and the plane crashes in the middle of the ocean and everyone perishes. It’s sad, a horrible tragedy to be sure. However, if that exact same plan crashed within a few miles of the runway they were trying to reach, it seems like a far worse tragedy. What changed? The same number of people perished either way. The biggest difference is the fact the people almost made it; they were almost safe. Being that close to being safe and falling short seems to make any disaster worse.

This certainly isn't the blog post I was intending on making today, but I felt compelled to discuss grief and its complexity. You’ll have to forgive me if this isn't one of my longer posts, I’m going to go take some time to myself and try to make sense of this tragedy. 

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