As published in The Chrisitan Post
August 30 is National Grief Awareness Day, which is a worthy observance. Grief is something every human being will inevitably experience. It’s a powerful emotion that goes to the deepest part of our nature as social creatures. We all bond to someone at some time, and when we lose that person, we experience a vacuum that can affect every part of our lives. For some, grief is utterly debilitating—and can be lifelong.
In my nearly 40 years as an evangelical minister, I’ve seen my share of grief. Whether it is at a funeral, or in an emergency room, or after a national tragedy. Of course, I’ve known grief myself, after the death of my parents; in my daughter after her long-delayed first pregnancy ended in miscarriage; and, like all Americans, as I grieved almost overwhelmingly when I served as a relief chaplain at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11. I had lost a friend in that attack and we all lost an innocent sense of security in our beloved homeland.
This National Grief Awareness Day I will have a new group of people on my heart and mind—the survivors of those lost to gun violence. Since getting involved in this issue through a documentary film project, and after talking with the loved ones, friends, and colleagues of gun violence victims, I’ve detected a level of suffering in them different from that of others who have lost people under different circumstances. Just the presence of a firearm, a weapon specifically designed to kill, in the equation of death brings an added sense of supreme injustice—supreme insult to the dignity of human life; supreme anguish, anger, outrage, and personal offense—that simply do not attach to most other experiences of mourning.