I’ve been thinking about the best way to pray for people affected by the tragic events in London this week and especially how to pray about the anger that is currently being emphasized by the media
As I considered this earlier today, I remembered the five stages of grief which is a model created by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to help us to understand how people grieve.
The five stages are:
In these past few days I’ve heard many people use phrases like ‘This shouldn’t have happened’. It was with a sense of disbelief that many of us watched this tragedy unfold and I can’t begin to imagine the shock that the survivors of this disaster are feeling at this time.
We should pray for those in shock that they would know God’s comfort and we can also give thanks for the many people who are offering practical love, help and support. We can pray that these people who are offering care would be strengthened and that they would be given the resources that they need.
As we have seen, denial can be swiftly followed by anger. ‘It’s not fair’ is a common reaction in any bereavement but for a tragedy on this scale it is not surprising to see eruptions of intense anger.
We should pray for the peacemakers in the community. I was impressed with this interview with Swarzy Macaly who took questions about anger and responded with a message of love and compassion. We should pray for her and the hundreds like her who are bringing love and not hatred to a damaged and hurting community.
This stage centers around the hope that we can somehow get our loved one back. The thought process of the person grieving might be ‘take me instead of them’ or a plea to bring them back in exchange for a change in behaviour.
As people enter into bargaining, we should pray for them that they would find peace and acceptance at the end of the turmoil of these thought processes. We should also be praying for people who are already living with survivors guilt, wishing they had died instead of the people who have been lost.
Bargaining is a stage that will inevitably lead to depression and darkness. Despite all of the what if’s, those who have died have not returned and as this sinks in people who are grieving will reach their lowest point. Often people get to this stage after funerals have taken place, when they are no longer busy and when their support may have diminished.
In a few more days or weeks, the media attention will die down and the relief being offered will also diminish. We need to especially pray for those who are mourning at this time that they would find a light in the darkness. We should also be praying for the churches and the people in the community that they will continue to see the importance of offering love and support when the practical help of finding of homes and feeding people is no longer needed.
When you lose a loved one your life will never be the same again. Although it is not something you can get over, it is something that you can accept.
In the TV show Call the Midwife there was an episode where Jenny was distraught at the death of her boyfriend and as she wept over his loss she is given some advice. ‘You will feel better than this. Maybe not yet, but you will.‘ Jenny asks ‘will I’ only to be told ‘Yes, you just keep living until you are alive again‘.
The people who lived in and around Grenfell tower will never be the same again but they can reach a point of acceptance. My prayer for them in these coming days and weeks will be that they keep on living until they feel alive again.
The media has already moved the focus on to ‘why’ and ‘who is to blame’ but I believe that this is still a time for offering comfort to the broken and the hurting. Of course we must look for answers as to why and we should want justice to be done when those answers are found but if we focus only on these areas now then we will be failing to care for those who are affected by this tragedy in their hour of need
Jesus said ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ (Matthew 5.4)
The blessing that Jesus speaks of is the comfort that can be received. In the depths of our greatest pain, God walks with us and offers us comfort and my prayer is that many people would know the love and support that God offers at this time.