Dear Orlando Families,
I write to you full of compassion for the grief you are enduring right now. When my husband was killed – murdered – in the World Trade Center, I too was flung into a spotlight I didn’t want, didn’t expect, didn’t know how to cope with. I had people, strangers, the whole world mourning with me. People I barely knew arrived at my door crying, and I embraced them, comforting them with the vapors of my compassion, numb in my grief.
Today, I attended “Camp Widow” in San Diego, a place where people know loss. In memory of your loved ones, we were each given a stone bearing the word “hope,” a symbolic token meant to ground us, remind us of the love we once shared, to remember you in your grief and your loved ones. One of the slogans of this camp is “Hope Matters,” and I can think of no better message to impart to you in these dark days of your grief.
To each of you, I offer my rock of hope to hang onto, to ground you in the dark days ahead, to remind you that you are not alone.
I can tell you that it gets easier. The pain of grief never leaves, but it gets easier to breathe, to smile, to laugh.
You have the option to choose one of two paths in your journey of grief: you can choose to shut down, curl up in a ball, be angry, bitter, lash out. And you will do all of these things. But then you will get tired. So tired. It is exhausting to hold onto a ball of fire and eventually you will need to let go before it burns too badly. The other path is to find meaning in your grief, to release that burning ball you hold as you begin to see a little light breaking through the cracks in the darkness.
There is something different about this shooting, sadly, another among many, but Orlando is different. Can you feel it too? This country is tired of the shootings, the guns, the violence, the bullying, the terror. Enough is enough. The crack is getting wider and you, families, and me, and all the other families of innocent victims of terror around the world are poised to usher in the shift.
Your power lies in your ability to forge ahead in life, to make your loved one’s death and your own life meaningful, to teach others how to turn tragedy into love and joy, to help others through their own tragedies, to love again.
There is life after unimaginable loss, and I just want to shine a little of that light in your direction, so that you can find your way out.
With all my love,