Thursday, June 24, 2010

What do you do, when you don't know what to do?

Yes that title is hard for me to say, but it is an accurate summation of life these past few days.

Namely, the loss of life.

Last Friday, a 17 year old who just graduated from high school was killed in a car accident. Her name was Susan, and she was my friend Sarah's stepsister. I knew who Susan was from my yearbook days and from attending the same high school, but I never actually talked to her.

Sarah, however, is one of my best friends. When I found out, immediately I sought to find out how she was doing. I didn't have the chance to speak to or see her until I went to Susan's visitation.

In the hours leading up to the visitation, I found myself helplessly trying to think of ways to help Sarah. She's a strong lady, but I knew from my own experiences that grief gets even the best of us. Grief always does. It's a mysterious thing.

I left the house, still not knowing what I would say when I saw her. My best friend Becca and I went together, and as I walked up to Sarah, anything that I had hoped to say (which wasn't much) fell to the floor. All I could do, and as I think about it now all that was needed, was to hold her. A long hug and several Iloveyous. Hugs aren't always cures, but sometimes they're good bandaids. I felt her collapse, as for one terrifying moment I thought I would collapse under the weight of all the grief that permeated the room like a thick fog. How can I help my friend if I can't even keep myself together?

I mourn and pray for Susan, but my mourning and praying is more for my friend and her family. I'm being honest with myself when I say I feel bad when I read that sentence, but I didn't know Susan.

Humans are emotional beings, some are just better than others about hiding or not hiding their emotions. I don't like to hide them much anymore as it does me no good. The loss of any life, known or not, is hard especially when it is a young life.

Later that day I kept thinking about how to help. What can I do to make Sarah's day a little brighter? What can I do to help stem the tide of emotions? It hit her harder than she expected, and knowing that threw me for a loop, consequently getting me more than I thought it would. How can I help her with that? I was at a loss for any kind of action. I almost felt that my thoughts were paralyzed. I like finding solutions and ways to help others. Why was it so hard for me to do that now?

Then I sat down and prayed. I realized at the time that that was the only thing I could do. I prayed for healing and peace for Sarah and her family, for the Holy Spirit to bring them back together after their loss. I also asked for guidance. God, what can I do?

Shortly after, Becca and I came up with an ingenious idea where the only things involved are friends, Harry Potter, musicals, junk food, and play. Divine providence is always a good thing, but it's even better when you actually see God's hand guiding you. Later that night, I read this before I fell asleep:
"One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." -2 Peter 3:8

Everything on this earth passes away--all too quickly. But eternity will never pass away. -St. Aloysius Gonzaga
And it all made perfect sense. Sort of. Death and grief I will never understand. But what to do when I don't know what to do?

Pray. Why couldn't I have thought of that earlier?


Lori said...

Ashley, you did exactly the right thing....Think of how Job's friends comforted him (before they started talking that is) Just sat with him in silence. In prayer for your young friend! Lori

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I think God led you to exactly the right thing to do.