I was asked recently to write an article for the Open to Hope Foundation. Open to Hope wanted to know how things like the death and destruction in Oklahoma can trigger tough memories and feelings. www.opentohope.com This is my response.
As used to my own grief as I am, every time I am aware of another life lost to less than a full life, my heart sinks and breaks again.
I know loss and its hurts. I have been that puddle in the middle of the floor. The person whose tears seem like rivers and you cannot see the end.
Now, 17 years later, 17 years after my son, Christopher, was murdered, I stand tall and happy. I feel hopeful for all my days ahead, and even though I would love Christopher to be with us, I know he never will be. And yet, happy life trails seem possible and I look forward.
I still get triggered by shootings in the newspaper, massive natural disasters and small children with terminal illnesses. Add to that hunger, homelessness and war. You can feel very overwhelmed.
And then on top of it; Oklahoma, Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado (I am sure I am forgetting some others) and the world! My heart breaks every time another life gets cut short. It all hurts.
I find myself scanning the newspaper. Every detail seems too much to take in. Just knowing that it happened is enough to make me pause. My thoughts go straight to the families. I am familiar with this loss, though not exactly, because we are all different and what we experience is different.
Whenever I read of a loss, I would like to reach out over the miles to each family. I also know that is not possible. I have a very busy and full life to live where I am right now. I need to circulate these emotions thorough myself and not let them paralyze me. At the same time, I do not want to “forget” the journeys these families have been handed without their permission. I understand being thrown into relationships you did not ask for (the murderer of my son), the changes in your life (a family member missing) and learning to rebuild your changed life.
I add the world and people I don’t know to my prayer list. I send blessings. I have a list of people I do know next to my computer. I sit here a lot and I look over and smile when I see their names. I send love to help them through the difficulties they are facing. It is a small step and it makes me feel more connected to their journey. Gentle small steps every day.