It was the morning of April 19th. I have a love-hate relationship with April 19th. For me, it marks the passing of my son. It’s been 12 years. This year, it has felt extra cruel–weighing heavy on my heart. This global pandemic has demanded all my coping mechanisms, and now what little coping skills I have are insufficient to process my own grief.
This past month of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Nova Scotia has brought wave after wave of loss. Loss of certainty, normalcy, safety, community, and freedom. With each wave, we have all tried our best to absorb the abrupt changes. Schools are closed–absorb. Churches are closed–absorb. People are losing jobs–absorb. I have been feeling like I have been absorbing so much, with an empty barrel of coping skills.
And then came April 19th. I awoke Sunday morning, my social media feed filled with warnings of locking down our households, finding safety in basements, and not opening your door to a person in an RCMP uniform.
An RCMP uniform? What is going on? How does one get an RCMP uniform? Driving a vehicle that looks like it belongs to the RCMP?
And down the twitter hole I fell, reading comment after comment full of speculation and fear.
An armed and dangerous suspect, possibly masquerading as an RCMP officer, was on the loose and lives were at risk. Throughout the morning we anxiously tracked the location of each update, calculating how close the risk was to our community. By the end of that Sunday, at least 14 lives were lost (including an on-duty RCMP officer), with the possibility of more.
My province was now home to one of the deadliest mass murders in the history of Canada.
There is great evil and brokenness in our world. In our nation. In our province. In our communities.
What an immensely painful reality.
Not only have we been trying to hold families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, now we are grieving with communities who have lost loved ones to this violent rampage. What already felt like saturation has now turned into a fear of drowning. Like the ocean waves that smash into our Atlantic ocean shores during a hurricane, we have been hit hard.
As I sat at the edge of my bed that Sunday night, I realized that April 19th is now a day of corporate grief, not just a personal one for my family. We grieve the loss of my son, and now our province grieves the loss of many more sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and friends. This is a traumatic day that will always bring memories to mind. A day that will weigh heavier than it did before for so many.
With whatever fragile capacities I entered Sunday, it was with numbness that I ended my day. It was all too much. Too much pain, too much loss, too much suffering.
I was reminded of the loss and lament of Psalm 13:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts And day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; My heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, For he has been good to me.
How long will suffering and loss go on? Why must evil ruin so many lives? How much more can we bear together?
We desperately need comfort, hope, and eyes to see the goodness of God. It is with a wind-torn heart that I trust that God can and will provide that.
My prayer that night was for God’s Spirit to move powerfully. To bring comfort and deep companionship to all who were grieving. To reveal his grace and mercy in the midst of pain and suffering. To redeem and restore the brokenness.
The night is dark, pain is real, and suffering hurts. God is with you, he sees you, and he loves you.
Written by Deb.