pastoral/spiritual care

Hurting and Healing

Ever since the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, I have been thinking about the victims’ families.  I picture the loved ones of those who survived sitting in hospital waiting rooms, as I see so many family members doing here at MUSC, worrying and praying and hoping.  I hurt for the families of the twelve people who died, and wonder how they are coping with their grief in the wake of such a public event.  In the days after the attack, thousands of people came to show their support for those who are grieving.  But in a few weeks or months, when the shooting no longer garners headlines, who will be standing by those families?  And who will they want to be there?

When a death occurs, those close to the deceased’s loved ones try to offer comfort in various ways.  With the best of intentions, those would-be comforters can hurt instead of help.  I have heard friends of a woman whose baby just died tell her that she can have other babies, and fellow church members of a grieving husband tell him that his wife is in heaven now so he shouldn’t be sad.  Legendary author Mark Twain began the darkest chapter of his life in 1896, when his 24-year-old daughter, Susy, died of meningitis while he was out of the country.  Several months later, he wrote a letter to his close friend, Rev. Joseph Twichell, in which he said, “I do not want most people to write [to me], but I do want you to do it. The others break my heart, but you will not. You have a something divine in you that is not in other men. You have the touch that heals, not lacerates.”

Dear God, we pray for those affected by the tragedy in Aurora that they will be surrounded by people with the touch that heals, not lacerates.  We pray the same for all of us when we are in need of comfort.  And when it is our turn to give comfort, teach us to be gentle healers.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent

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