When we learn of a tragedy, like the gunning down of Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old Tucson girl, a whole nation mourns in confusion. Even though her death is external to our own system of intimate connections, it can still trigger many complex emotions and struggles.

Greater minds than ours have been challenged by such senseless loss. The question of “why?” will reliably surface in the thoughts and conversations that ensue. This is a normal, human response.

Usually, despite all the mind gymnastics we do in times of wrongful death, we all end up in the same place: We possess no true answers at the most fundamental level. Great philosophers, spiritual leaders, psychologists – we all join together in a human realm of unknowing. If there were true answers, we would all have gotten the memo by now.

In looking at numerous biographies and reading many accounts of individuals’ encounters with tragic loss, I only have one observation to share, one that has kept me anchored and grounded in the midst of many personal encounters with tragedy.

And that is this: When the impulse arises to ask “why,” take the next step and press into the major “why” questions of your own life.

The major themes of life could be summarized as: Who am I, why am I here (why do I exist?) and what am I to do with the life I have been given?

To seek some good virtue in this present life and make it our goal — that’s a fitting tribute to those who have died wrongfully. If one were to work toward a personal commitment to establish enduring peace, internally and externally, personally and corporately, this would serve to honor those who have lost their lives to senseless violence.

It is the only power that we possess in our choiceless state. But, it is a great power. It is the power of how your story and my story are wrapped with her story and with the many others who have left this earth far too soon.

What personal commitment could you make to establish enduring peace?

Kim Go 2011

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Kim Go

I am an artist in the expressive, installation and performance arts. I write because of our shared cultural beliefs about loss offer far too few tools to people working with grief. When I was very young, I thought little about impermanence. Then, my personal encounters with impermanence grew to include such challenges as: my father's death in early childhood, a near-death experience in adolescence, divorce, fertility challenges, death of a soul mate and spouse and subsequent loss of access to stepchildren, mugging and assault, pet loss, job loss, suicide of two close friends, and geographic resettlement. Perhaps we have something in common... perhaps not. I have learned that the specificity of the loss does not matter as much as the condition of the heart to be open to others who are learning to be present and alive regardless of the impermanence in their story.

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