Just as I was preparing to travel to a small community of 900 people in western Iowa that lost a child as the fourth person to suicide this past year, I heard about the shooting and loss of lives at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City.
Since writing the story of my life’s greatest mentor (a Jewish judge), I’ve become familiar with the work of Jewish Community Centers – and the good and gracious people that fill them to celebrate messages of love and service. I sent a note of condolence to the JCC, tucked the unknown victims, families, and community into my heart to hold in prayer, and headed off to spend time with yet another grieving community.
I returned home to a note from a dear friend who I didn’t realize lived a few blocks from the JCC and was at a nearby playground with his daughter at the time a hate filled man shot and killed three people.
My friend told me about Mindy Corporon, who lost both her father and son in this tragic crime, and shared how she has been inspiring grieving hearts to pull together to focus on love and not hate. When Mindy heard that there an interfaith service being held the same day she lost her family members, she was there to speak love to her community:
The following day, in response to the demands of media, she hosted a press conference to release a statement from her family:
“People keep saying, how come you’re so strong? I’m strong because I have family. I’m strong because I have faith… I know that God did not do this. I know that there are evil, evil actions. But what we do have is each other, we have love and we have prayer, and we have friends and family.” ~Mindy Corporon
Then my friend shared these musings on grief by a local mom. He said that they spoke his own heart…mine, too.
He finished by saying that Mindy’s call to bring good from evil and to encourage the community to come together in love and hope made him think of our community resilience work after we lost our children.
Then my friend shared these words by a local mom. He said that they spoke his own heart…mine, too: Emily Parnell — The peace that passes understanding: Stepping into Mindy Corporon’s shoes
It’s been healing and inspiring (and yes, heart wrenching) for me to watch the above video clips and read the words of people processing profound loss and grief.
Through my community resilience work, I’ve come to believe this: Heartbreak is an invitation.
In the wake of grieving senseless acts of loss, it was my heartbreak that led me to call on community leaders and say: Not only can something good come from this, but something good must come from this. We have not experienced this depth of loss to not bring forth good for our community and for others.
This was one of the messages I have heard repeated in other post-trauma communities as they dig deep and hold fast to a vision of goodness that is ahead of them.
While working in the small post-trauma community in western Iowa, I witnessed half of the town, one person after another, coming together in a powerful outpouring of love and support. Yet another community coming together to heal. Yet another grieving mother speaking words of hope.
When I heard Mindy’s expression of hope that something good will come from the tragic loss of father, son, and another person…I wanted to hug her and reassure her that much goodness already has come forth.
“A million hearts ache for your loss, weeping together, and we hug our loved ones tighter in your son’s memory. I kissed my children this morning and called out that I loved them one last time, remembering that any goodbye could be the last goodbye.” ~Emily Parnell
Much good is unfolding in ways that Mindy – and we – cannot yet see. But do not doubt that it is here.
Our hearts are breaking…and within an invitation is being whispered.
Your heartbreak is inviting you to be a messenger of love.
Your heartbreak is inviting you to be a messenger of hope.
Your heartbreak is inviting you to be a messenger of healing.
Can you hear it?