Coping in the face of unimaginable tragedy

We join the world in grieving for Kenya.

On Thursday, April 2, 2015 terrorists attacked Garissa University College in Garissa Kenya. One hundred and forty seven innocent men and women were brutally massacred, most of whom were students pursuing their ambition for a better life for themselves and their loved ones. In his condemnation of this horrific act, President Barack Obama reflected that the students “represented a brighter future for a region that has seen too much violence for far too long.”

One hundred and forty seven people! How does one begin to cope with the magnitude of this tragedy? These students were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. Such a trauma shatters the world as we know it. It doesn’t make sense. It shakes our sense of safety, control and trust in the world.

We are not immune to this kind of tragedy. Our nation has also experienced the horror of terrorist attacks. The Oklahoma City bombing. The Boston Marathon. The Fort Hood shootings. And the national tragedy of September 11, 2001. The horrific news coming out of Kenya may call forth our own grief, both for national and personal tragedies.

So what is there to do in the face of these tragedies?

Vigils are important ways of acknowledging the magnitude of loss. In Kenya, they have gathered to remember these innocents, having a silent vigil in Uhuru Park with 147 crosses planted in the ground. They read the names of the victims which were repeated by the audience in unison. They sang the national anthem. They wrote notes honoring the victims and lit candles. They shared their stories. They talked about aspiring lawyers, doctors and teachers.

The Kenyan Wasafiri Voices Choir performs at a fundraiser for Gilchrist’s partner hospice in Tanzania.

On a local level, this tragedy touches our hearts. Gilchrist Hospice Care has been partnered with an East-African hospice in neighboring Tanzania since 2009. We have traveled to Africa and consider our partners there to be both friends and colleagues. And the Kenyan members of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Baltimore have been supportive of our partnership in Tanzania, with the Kenyan Wasafiri Voices Choir donating their time to sing at our Concert for Tanzania in 2014. St. Matthews will hold a special mass on Friday April 10 “to pray for their Nation in the midst of this current crisis.”

And so we stand together. Mourn together. And begin to heal.

Gilchrist Grief Services offers support to those who grieve, whether the loss was expected or sudden. For more information, please visit


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