At times like this there are simply no pat answers.
Someone I know suffered severe whiplash recently; whiplash isn't a nice word if you think about it.
And I thought, as I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night, how many I know are experiencing emotional whiplash at this moment.
Death can do that, unexpected tragedy. We are deeply shaken; we can feel lost, uprooted, filled with unbelief.
I am not unfamiliar with death, as it is part of my world as a hospital chaplain. But it has hit hard this week and the image of emotional whiplash seems appropriate.
In one story there is relief of pain, the ravages of disease that overtook the life of a young woman so many love.
And yet her light was bright and will live on in all of our hearts.
Tragedy took the life of another this week.
There are fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and children, relatives and friends left to mourn, feeling the empty space that will be impossible to fill.
I, like many connected to these stories, to these precious lives, are deeply impacted. We mourn with those who mourn.
As I was writing out words yesterday in preparation for a memorial, I looked for words to find comfort - and these words from the ancient scriptures came to mind: "Where, O death is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?"
We have known the sting of death this week; many of us.
On Thursday I received a devotional which highlighted this verse and it seemed as though God had sent it just for me at that moment.
It was the words of the apostle Paul who says: "We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it." 2 Cor. 1:8.
Of course he goes on to say that he DID live through it, but I saw those words and felt them. There are moments where we feel we will not survive this pain.
As many are reeling from shock and grief, it is a privilege to be with them, to sit with them in the "through" part. This is the dark place and the weight of it is emotional and even physical. There is a deep ache to grief, a heaviness that feels unbearable.
We hang on to the knowledge of hope, even if we don't feel it.
I cling to the words of Psalm 23 which I read often: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me."
Yes, Jesus who wept when his friend Lazarus died, our Jesus weeps with us as we walk in this valley.
May God comfort all who mourn.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16.