The Manner of Death is Homicide

Homicide. The coroner for the Colorado massacre, Dr. Michael Doberson, said, “The manner of death is homicide.”

People out for a fun evening of entertainment are the victims of homicide. Random killing. Homicide. So senseless. Heartbreaking.

As we, as a nation, grapple with the concept of a monster who lived in our midst and meticulously planned the death of others and as we grieve for those who lost their lives or had loved ones die in the massacre in Colorado on Friday, I think it’s important to remember something. There are grieving people behind the media circus. There are family units behind the photos of the victims. Their lives will never be the same.

Each of those people represent a family unit – and extended family and friends – who have lost a child, a brother, a friend, a classmate, a spouse. Their lives have forever been changed by the actions of another. These families have a long road ahead of them, one no one would walk by choice. Each of them, as individual people and family units, needs all of the love, caring, and support that those around them can possibly give. It’s my heart’s prayer that each of them is surrounded with love, care and support for as long as he or she needs it.

They are going to need it.

As huge as this cumulative tragedy is for the Colorado communities and our nation as a whole, this loss touches the lives of those family members in a very personal, individual way – ways which are unique to each of them. Each of those victims listed in the media reports represents a family and individuals who are grieving a horrendous loss. Each of those families has to go through the process of burying their loved one – purchasing a grave site and a casket, choosing clothes for their loved one to wear, planning a funeral or memorial service. (Some families may not be able to afford these costs, which can be quite expensive, so it may be worthwhile to contribute to a fund if you hear of one.)

Each of those families contain individual people who will individually grieve the death of his or her loved one. They represent a parent who has lost a child, a daughter who has lost a father, a girl whose boyfriend has died. They will grieve outside of the eye of the media and for a long time after the attention of our nation has moved on to something else. Each one of them will have to walk the journey of grief on his or her own.

Outside of the horrific circumstances and all the media attention, there are individuals who are just starting the journey of deep grief, who – each on his or her own – will have to gradually integrate the death of that loved one into the fabric of his or her life on an ongoing and daily basis. The magnitude of losing a loved one and the prolonged and far-reaching grief that follows is unimaginable. Long after the media attention has disappeared and the president has gone home after visiting them, these families will still be grieving. They will still be learning to live a life without the presence of their loved one. It’s a lifelong process.

Something else came to mind today, though.

We need to remember that there are others, too, who have lost loved ones to other tragic circumstances and are on their own individual, unimaginable journey of loss.

There are others who have heard those words: “The manner of the death is homicide.” There are those with family members in the military who have had a knock on the door and have heard those words, “We regret to inform you…” There are others who have watched loved ones die of disease. There are others who have received the news, in some manner, that their loved one has died.

They, too, represent a family unit who has lost a child, a brother, a dad, or a spouse. They, too, are individuals who have to walk the road of grief and loss. They, too, have to learn how to live a life without their loved one and how to integrate the loss of their loved one into the fabric of their lives. Their lives have forever been changed by the careless actions of another or by some insidious disease. They, too, walk that long and difficult road that no one would walk by choice. Their losses may not receive media attention or warrant a visit from the president. Their loss is no less real and heartbreaking than those who lost a loved one in the Colorado shootings.

They are people right in our community, in our schools, and in our churches.

You’ve heard the expression, “Think globally, act locally,” right? Perhaps we should use this national tragedy to bring our focus to those within our own realm in influence whose lives we can impact. We can make a difference in someone’s life!!

A father’s grief

There are those in our very own communities who have lost a dearly-loved family member or friend. Homicide. A drunk driver. Drowning victim. Car accident. Slick pavement. A hot car. Suicide. Vehicular homicide. Their deaths had no less impact on them and their families than the deaths of Colorado shooting victim’s families, than the Oklahoma bombing victim’s families, than the 9/11 victim’s families. All of them felt the same excruciating, heart-crushing grief of losing someone they dearly loved. The grief etched on the face of Mr. Sullivan (father of of Alex Sullivan, who died in the Colorado shooting) could be the grief on the face of any parent upon learning about the death of a child.

Circumstance doesn’t matter. Economic status doesn’t matter. Location doesn’t matter. Media coverage doesn’t matter. What matters is that someone – one individual – has lost a dearly loved one to circumstances beyond his or her control. What matters is how we respond. A family has lost a precious member of its core unit. A mother has lost a son. A sister has lost a brother. A wife has lost a husband. Hearts have been broken, lives have been changed forever.

How will we respond to the lives lost in the Colorado shooting? How will we respond to the losses in our own communities, our own realm of influence, our own churches?

The deaths of the victims in the Colorado shooting outrages us. It touches our hearts. We grieve for this tragedy. We grieve for the families.

Perhaps, with our hearts sensitized to the loss of others and wishing we could do something to help as a result of this tragedy, we can look around us for those in our churches, schools, and communities who may be grieving the death of a loved one. Perhaps we can show them the love, caring, and support that we wish we could show to the families of the victims in Colorado.

We feel helpless. We feel vulnerable. We feel outraged.

Take those feelings and find someone right in front of your nose who is hurting to whom you can show kindness – someone right within your own community that you can love, care for, pray for, and support. It doesn’t matter how recently or how long ago that loss happened. People always appreciate knowing that you care. Caring matters. Kindness matters.

Find someone today who may be hurting and show them that you care.

I think I’ll go get some flowers for my neighbor today.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

My Heart is Heavy

My heart is heavy today. The world sometimes seems like such a harsh and unkind place.

I grieve for those who lost their lives in the Colorado shooting yesterday, for their families who are just beginning a walk of loss no one would ever want.

I grieve for little children left on a school bus, unable to get out of the heat, by those who were supposed to take care of them.

I grieve for little girls abducted while riding their bikes.

I grieve for children who grow up too early because they are allowed to play violent video games, watch movies and TV inappropriate for children. Parents and caregivers: Don’t you know once a child has heard, seen, or experienced something that it stays with them FOREVER?? What is the matter with you that you don’t give your children a chance to just be innocent children?

I grieve for little children who lose their innocence because of the inattentiveness or lack of caring by parents or caregivers and for those children molested, harmed or killed at the hands of those who were supposed to care for and protect them.

I grieve for the basic lack of kindness and caring that human beings are capable of showing to each other. Kindness matters. Compassion matters.

Shouldn’t our motto be “Do no harm”?

Oh, God, help us.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney