One of our shining attributes, as human beings, is our ability to give words to our joys and our sorrows. Think of all the great literature that revolves around a loved one’s death. There are too numerous to count, poems written from the human soul crying out its horrendous loss to the world. But have you ever had to meet death head on in the sudden loss of a loved one? As I sit here and write this it is only days after 17 more innocent individuals’ lives where snuffed out in an instant.

Sudden loss, whether in a tragedy such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting, or in the massive heart attack that took the husband you thought was stronger than nails, shocks one to the core. You stand there, the proverbial wind knocked out of your sails. Time stands still, things fall from your hands, and all you want to do is give out a primal scream. You want to scream so loud and so long until the world around you shatters just as you did. Instead, you swallow that scream whole, put one foot in front of the other, and walk through the next hours and days like a zombie. Life, as you know it, is on hold. Mute, you go through the motion of your tasks, words no longer have meaning.

On Valentine’s Day we are conditioned to speak to our loved ones words of affection, words of joy. Thousands of words, written on thousands of cards tell the world our positive feelings. But now, after this horrible tragedy that occurred on that day of joyous words, we are tossed into the desert of silence. Ironically, this year that day was also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. A season in the Christian religion that leads up to death, suffering, and yet hope through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the “Word made flesh” and as he died on the cross, he let out a wordless cry just before his life ended. It was a scream to his Father as he went into the abyss of death’s darkness.

When sadness and grief overcome us and words fail us, let us turn to the pure emotion of remembering our loved ones. As time passes and words return to our lips, let us keep their memory alive by recounting who they were, what they stood for, the good they brought to our lives. And never forget the power of prayer, for even wordless grief can be a prayer sent up to God, however you conceive him/her to be.

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