Synthesis – Take time to grieve after this week’s events

John Winstead mug

John Winstead

This week has seen much tragedy. From the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris to the WKU student who took her own life, there is no shortage of despair on people’s minds.

I do not want to grandstand or politicize these tragedies. I want to, instead, offer a meditation on grief.

I don’t know what causes someone to enact violence, whether that violence is directed outward or inward. But I think our obsession with figuring out why tragedies happen betrays a truth of the human experience, which is that we want to be in control of our world.

During my four years at WKU, I’ve known personally three people who have died by suicide, and I have known of half a dozen other people who have killed themselves. After each incident there was a common knee-jerk reaction to ask “Did you know they were depressed?” or “Did you see this coming?” as if, had we just been more attentive, it could have been prevented.

Not all tragedies will be evident, and the vast majority of them will not make sense. That is why they are so tragic. No one predicted the events that happened in Beirut or Paris or that Shanece Sullivan would not make it to her Monday classes, and no one will be able to predict the next time we will have to grieve. That is the nature of grief.

The frustration we feel at these events reminds us of our hubris. It humbles us. There is not always a lesson to learn. Not every atrocity has a silver-lining. Sometimes we have to feel comfortable letting the injustices we have no power over wash over us.

But when the grieving is done, when we have learned to live with the loss, then we will be that much more forthright in our resolve to tackling the injustices we do have power over.

Until that time, take care of each other, grieve openly and remember that some people will not be saved, but that burden is not on you.