Tragedy, Grief and Unanswered Questions

older woman showing grief

This morning tragedy and death were on the front page of both of newspapers I normally read. Not in some distant war zone, but right here in the town where I live. Not the death of evildoers or losers, but of innocents, the brightest and the best.

A family of four – mother, father, son, daughter – on a Spring break trip to visit family, killed when a tractor trailer lost control and came through the guardrails on I-77 in West Virginia. Two sisters – college students from a nearby town – in a head-on collision while on the way to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.

In these instances, and countless others, the tragedy is two-fold; the lives taken much too soon with no forewarning, and the devastating grief of family and friends left behind. It’s the kind of loss that upends our world, destroys plans and dreams for the future and attacks our faith in God’s care and goodness.

The question that ricochets through the months and even years ahead is the wrenching cry of all those who suffer – WHY? WHY ME? WHY US? WHY NOW?

The questions can be especially painful for people of faith. Logic does not suffice. Sure it was an accident. Being on this particular road at this particular time, under these particular conditions resulted in this outcome.

BUT if God is loving and powerful as we’ve been taught, as we have believed, why did he not intervene? Where was the promised protection? Did God just stand by and let it happen, or does he even exist at all?

Such questions, natural and human, shake faith to the core. It feels as if God let us down and we want answers. Over the centuries whole libraries of books have been written in an effort to explain, defend, accuse or discount God’s role altogether.

The fact is that in the dark night of grief and loss there are no good answers. Comfort? Yes. Hope of resurrection and a life beyond this one? Yes. Satisfying answers? No.

The journey through grief may be long and torturous, to some degree never ending. The one you lost can never be replaced. Yet it is only in acceptance that we find peace and the capacity to enjoy life again. To let go of our anger and guilt. To forgive ourselves, God, the universe and go on.

Mourning is not something that can be rushed. Nor does it have a set of steps or a timetable to follow. It is as unique as each individual mourner. You can’t go around it, under it or over it. To reach a place of acceptance and peace you have to go through it.

Discovering along the way that God was with your loved one in the moment of death and is with you still, brings healing. He understands your myriad changing emotions, your anger, your anguished questions. He understands and cares. You are not alone. And in time, knowing that truth – becomes enough.

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