Grief is a dreaded word, because it means that something has happened either in our own life or someplace around us that results in heartbreak and sadness.
Today, because of the accelerated level of communication in the world we can know almost instantly when something bad has occurred. This has created the illusion that things are so much worse now than they have ever been; but personally, I really doubt that. We have to face the fact that things happen almost every day of our lives that could cause us to grieve, either for ourselves or for others. Evil has been here since the beginning of time and it takes no vacations.
A couple of recent examples are: On May 14, 2022 an 18-year-old entered a supermarket in Buffalo, NY shooting 13 people, killing 10 of them. He even live-streamed what he was doing on social media for at least 2 minutes before it was shut down. On May 24, 2022 another 18-year-old in Uvalde, TX shot his own grandmother in the face during an argument (she survived), then he went to a nearby elementary school and killed 19 students that were 10 and 11 years old, along with 2 teachers.
In 2022 from January 1 through May 25 there have been 212 mass shootings in the United States. (Most describe a mass shooting as when at least 4 people have been killed or wounded at one location, excluding the perpetrator.)
Just this month alone (from the 1st to the 15th) there had been 33 recorded mass shootings in the nation. In the same time period of May 1-15 in 2021 there had been 37 recorded mass shootings. Those numbers for 2021 and 2022 are up substantially over the previous four years – in 2017 there were 10, in 2018 there were 20 and in both 2019 and 2020 there were 19. (When I researched the statistics I discovered that there had been 15 more mass shooting between the 16th thru yesterday, the 27th, for a total of 48 in 27 days.) *
So what has happened in the past two years that could have “created” these increases in violence? Well, of course, we had the pandemic. As a result of the pandemic we had unrealistic, never-before-used restrictions placed upon the public. We were first told that we needed to shelter in place for two weeks to “flatten the curve”. Most businesses were closed, schools were closed – but all of that went on for much longer than two weeks. Then we were told that when we did go out in public we needed to mask up and social distance ourselves 6’ from any other human being. People were isolated from one another and fear spread like wildfire made much worse by irrational governmental authorities spewing their “scientific facts”.
What happens to human beings when they are socially isolated for too long? Isolation/loneliness will increase stress which can lead to poor sleep, a compromised immune system and in older persons can cause cognitive decline. It also damages our mental health.** To me that idea of increased stress is a huge issue. Stress causes a lot of anxiety and anxiety has its own set of problems – a long list of problems – but unreasonable fear, depression and anger are some of the big ones. It is difficult enough for adults to recognize and deal with those issues, but what does it do to young people? What does it do to children?
During that shutdown, adults and young people were turning more and more to alcohol and drugs, domestic violence increased dramatically as did suicides.
Young people are at a place in their lives that they need a lot of social interaction while they are learning more about themselves and others. Isolation prevents that. To fill their time, they spent an inordinate amount of time on social media and we all know how that can disrupt and distort opinions and actions.
Children kept from others and that are masked up have their learning abilities stunted. (i.e., I have heard how children at the age when they should be learning to speak have had that development dramatically slowed just because they could not see the mouths of masked up people speaking to them.) They are also confused because they cannot read facial features and reactions of those wearing masks.
During our required shut-downs and distancing I personally witnessed some close family and friends suffer from anxiety attacks and physical health declines. We frequently hear stories of unreasonable angry outbursts from people in somewhat ordinary settings. It has been like a simmering pot that starts to overflow. It is no wonder that we have seen so much violence causing havoc and death!
I personally believe that this has all caused grief to build up in our lives – grieving for the freedoms and “normal” lifestyle that we were accustomed to living. I also believe that this kind of grief can result in anger – anger at whomever or whatever caused the perceived problem – people striking out at anyone around them.
To complicate all of those unreasonable requirements that were put in place by our government a couple of years ago, we also have our legal system that no longer seems inclined to punish those that should be punished; we have people streaming into our country illegally that are eating up resources that should be reserved for tax-paying citizens; we have a government that seems to be working overtime in doing everything they can to divide us by race, gender, social status, financial status, etc.; we have a government that has gone crazy with spending money we do not have, spending said money on things we do not need causing inflation to rise so fast that people are not going to be able to put gas in their cars or groceries on their tables and so much more. I could on, but you get the idea.
What is the result of all of these things that just continue to pile up? Anxiety, anger, grief, to mention a few. So what are we to do about it?
We need to keep in mind that in many of these mass murder cases we found out after the fact that there were warning signs – irrational behavior, strange comments to others or on social media, etc. We need to go back to following the idea that if you see/hear something – then say something. It could be the difference between life and death for someone. We need to step up and insist that our schools demand proper behavior from students and take action when the rules are not followed. We need to insist that our appointed and elected leaders follow our Constitution and Bill of Rights – it is as though they have been thrown out the window and are totally being disregarded. Most of all, we need to bring God and prayer back into our personal lives and into society at large – He is the answer. He is the one that regardless of our situation or what is going on around us, can fill us with hope, joy and peace.
To wrap this up, here are some words for encouragement:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 NLT
“God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!” Matthew 5:4 CEV
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
“I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.” Romans 15:13 CEV
God says: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 GNT
We can never give up – “Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.” Romans 12:12 MSG
Written by Karran Martin – May 28, 2022
* https://www.foxnews.com/us/us-rocked-mass-shootings-two-first-weeks-may (source for details of the month of May 2022) and
https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2022/05/25/list-of-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states-in-2022/ (source for details of the year 2022)
**Facts not quoted verbatim but were arrived at from an article in Psychology Today dated November 12, 2016 written by Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D.