today’s sobering grief

At least 19 elementary students.

2 teachers. 

An 18-year-old gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, shot and killed the above at Robb Elementary School about 85 miles west of San Antonio, Texas. The children were in second, third, and fourth grade.

Absolutely awful. Absolutely evil. The killing of innocent life.

Lord, have mercy. God be with those families. Our hearts collectively grieve.

There are at least five stages — five emotions — associated with grief. Originally dubbed the “five stages of death,” Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published her theory in 1969. The five most common emotional reactions to loss or grief are — in sequence — as follows:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

All are valid. None are easy. And as we continually learn to love our neighbor as ourself, we respect all where they are.

The challenge becomes when we get stuck in a stage. With the exception of acceptance, “stuckness” in any of the above is presumably unhealthy.

Sad as I wish to admit, I’ve been there.

Many will rush to lash out…

This is the reason… this party is the reason… this person is the reason…”

Sure. I get it. It’s easy to finger point. It’s easy to politicize; it’s easy to argue about who cares more about the totality of life. The first bottom line is that it’s easy. It’s easy to hold someone else or something else completely responsible other than, the person responsible. It’s easy. None of us want this to happen any more! Again, Lord have mercy.

To be clear, we don’t know…

We don’t know the motive…

We don’t know the gunman’s mental health…

We don’t know what laws were broken… purchase, possession, immigration, etal.

We don’t know what laws would have been effective…

We don’t know how social media played a role…

We don’t know why this elementary school…

We don’t know why he reportedly killed his grandmother first…

The second bottom line is that we don’t even know what we don’t know.

When we know — and when we are collectively out of the first four stages of grief — we can work to make such incidents less alluring to the evil or the sick. What laws would be most effective? What would actually deter the evil? [See link below.] Friends, this isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem; disturbingly, this is a humankind problem. If we could see it that way, maybe we could minimize the manifestation of this evil. This is no time to attempt to score political points; this is a time to be instruments of peace.

Let me humbly add one more tough topic. I am deeply uncomfortable with the brash retort encouraging forgoing of any thoughts and prayers; some use a different choice, crass ”f” word. I understand the impatience; it’s a part of the grief — the undeniable horror. None of us want this to happen again. None; this is what it means to honor life. But when we forgo the unprecedented wisdom offered by the great big God of the universe — the One who knows each of us best — we only give way to continued human delusion, beguiled by the notion that we need no wisdom greater than we. With all due respect, perhaps it’s precisely that forgoing that has allowed us to see this as a political issue, rather than an issue with all humankind… how evil can dwell in the actual heart of a human.

We need wisdom, friends… deeply… desperately… wisdom that’s collective, not stuck in any stage, and not focused on the easy or the finger pointing or the politics… this is hard, grievous stuff.

So in our grief, let’s humbly do this. In honor of those 19 kids and teachers. May the evil killing of the innocent soberly prompt what is better and wiser in each of us. May we humbly start by moving forward together. It will be hard. But the hard is necessary and worth it.



[P.S. For more on a potential, reasonable deterrent to mass shootings, consider this proposal by the articulate, highly respected, and always respectful, David French, advocating for the passage of “red flag laws” and scrutinizing what current law is ineffective and why. It is a wise read. Focused on solution. Together.]

One Reply to “today’s sobering grief”

  1. Thank you Ann. As always you provided us with a clam and thought provoking read. There are so many posts and articles each finger pointing to one side or another, as well as blaming an inanimate object that requires human interaction to function. Mental health is a major problem in this country, yet we continue to deflect to the chosen weapons as the problem.

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