I’m Sorry

To the families and loved ones of those killed in Orlando… I am profoundly sorry.

I know that is an underwhelming response to the nightmare that started for you on Saturday, but it is all I have. I am not in a position to offer a solution and I am not smart enough to provide an answer. I just have an apology. This shouldn’t have happened. I’m sorry that your reality has been shattered and that things are so different from the way they were before. You didn’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this. Although I too have experienced great loss, I haven’t any grand words of wisdom for you about coping with this. I only have a relatively large shoulder to offer.

Your loved ones entered that bar in Orlando with hopes and dreams. They went in to have fun and should have had the opportunity to keep singing, dancing, and living for many more years. That opportunity was tragically denied them. And I’m sorry.

As a grieving father myself, I have entered that tunnel you find yourself peering into. It is long. It is dark. It is lonely and it is foreboding. There will be times during your journey when the walls narrow to impossible limits and you will curse the extra desserts you’ve been scarfing down for the last twenty years. I’m here to tell you that somehow you will get through. Often you will feel like sitting down –  your burden will seem too heavy and you will feel like you cannot move. Keep moving. Stumble forward as best you can. (Notice I don’t say “move on” – there is no moving on from this, there is only moving forward.)

Though the air is sucked from your chest and the darkness absolute at times, there will be moments of profound light that you could never imagine. In the midst of her battle with cancer, my daughter, Kylie made this statement:

“…and the beauty and light in the worst of it, is the prettiest and most blinding.”

She was only twelve but she was right. The agony of grief illuminates even the tiniest sliver of joy. I don’t know how, where, or when your slivers of light will come because everyone’s struggle through grief is different. But I hope you find them quickly.

If you will permit me, I’d like to offer you one piece of advice that runs directly opposed to the advice I am about to give: Don’t listen to anyone offering advice. If someone says they have a song to share with you, smile and accept it but you may want to set it aside. You can cry on your own without the power of music. If they offer the perfect article they found online or a Bible verse, understand that they are trying to help in their way, but be careful what you read. Words seldom give comfort. When someone calls or texts their support, answer if you have the power… or don’t. And never allow anyone make you feel bad for refusing their call, song, or verse. This is your grief to manage and there is no absolute right or wrong. There is only right or wrong for you.

The people you need are the ones who wordlessly sit beside you and hold your hand. Make room for those quiet ones. Give them your tears because they will be responsible with them.

I think you should know that tears will become your bedfellow. Regardless of how strong  you think you are, they will sneak up and find you at the oddest of moments – in a meeting, at the grocery store, or while you are mowing your confounded lawn. Tears are annoyingly sudden and have the power to pull you away like a torrential flood. Don’t deny them. Own them. Own them as a badge to cry out to anyone who will listen that this world is a poorer place because of the lives denied by this senseless act of cowardice.

And throughout it all, know that you aren’t alone. There are a great many of us who are experiencing grief alongside you. We are a terrific band of losers, sorry to know each other but always ready to welcome more into the fold with a silent hug – physical or digital – because unfortunately this evil world keeps churning us out.

I don’t know you, and probably never will, but in love I want to say that I am so very sorry for your loss.

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30 thoughts on “I’m Sorry

  1. Dear Mark,
    What an amazing piece on grief and loss. Something I wish I would have read sooner. As outsiders, we so want to help. Perhaps we throw money, and quotes, and loads of advice. I’m usually mute, paralyzed. Your words offer comfort and sound advice – I wish it didn’t come from such a place of intimate knowledge.
    Printing and keeping a copy for the future sadness inevitable to come and touch people I love. Thank you for sharing this today.

    1. Unfortunately, they’ll have no idea what they need and be all swimmy-headed for a while. It is totally crippling during the first months. I just can’t fathom so many grieving over the same event. It is mind-blowing and I really hate it.

  2. “The people you need are the ones who wordlessly sit beside you and hold your hand.”

    You don’t need me – but you silenced every single word with this beautiful post. I needed you to know that.

  3. So absolutely devastating. Thank you for your words of wisdom forged in the same crucible these families are reeling from today. Come Lord Jesus and wipe away these tears….

  4. I was so touched by your powerful words. You expressed so eloquently what is in my heart and my very soul. Loss of a husband, child and grandchild has me locked in grief. But I continue to move forward as best I can. Thanking you for sharing your gift of writing and sharing your very soul.

    1. I’m sorry for your losses Patti. We all move forward our own way and at our own speed. Writing is a big part of my moving and I am honored that people read it an pray it helps a person or two. Blessings on your journey.

  5. Thank you, Mark. Our fine son Kappel has been in his new home for about a month now. As another grieving father told me this week, “your lows will never again be as low, and your highs will never again be as high”. I’m finding that to be true. Some days I hold on to a sliver of hope and joy. Some days the hope and joy overwhelm me, oddly mixed in with grief. I’m just learning to take them all as they come. I’ve followed your journey from afar, and am so thankful for you. Bless you, my friend.

  6. Thank you, Mark, for your poignant and heartfelt words. It is a sad time and your challenges with grief and loss speak volumes to those who cannot even begin to hear the words of others right now. I’m going to foward this on my FB page for my friends here in Orlando.

  7. Mark, Beautifully said and meaningful advice. I too, am so sorry for all the loss of life that occurred in that bar in Orlando. A senseless action that created immeasurable grief. Tragic

  8. Whenever I find myself blinded by grief and sorrow I turn to your site, somehow you always manage to make things a little less painful and gives me the remainder of that life sure is beautiful no matter how dark it might be at times.
    Kylie sure was right, “…and the beauty and light in the worst of it, is the prettiest and most blinding.”

    Thanks for making me realize again and again that the only one who can tell me how I “should” manage my grief is myself.

    1. That is amazingly sweet. Thank you. And that quote! The letter was given to us about 2 weeks after she died and I was floored. Our baby knew how to live. She set the roadmap out for us. I’m sorry you are grieving also – it is no fun.

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