For other parts of this series, click here.
The topic of grief for loved ones of a death by violence is not an easy one. Today’s topic is a prayer I found for a person whose loved one has died by a violent act. We can’t ignore this topic. We live in a broken world. There are too many times when things happen that cause us to wonder what God is doing, who God is and what He is really like. You don’t have to read far into the Psalms to hear the questions David has of God in that regard. In fact, we don’t have to read far into the Bible to wonder who this God is. He is definitely not like us as humans and even less like us as Americans. It is difficult to understand His ways.
Take some time to think through questions that arise from this series. It won’t be the last time these questions will ace you. It probably isn’t the first time you have thought about them either. I’m probably not bringing up all the questions you are thinking about. Just remember. God is big enough for all of your questions. That isn’t to say that He will answer them all or will answer them in the ways you would like. I can say that over time He will give you glimmers of answers. The blessing is that the answers show us how different our paradigm is from HIs.
A prayer for a those remaining after a loved one died under violent circumstances. I’m sharing selected portions of the prayer.
I’m going to quote here from a book called Every Moment Holy: Volume II Death, Grief, and Hope edited by Douglas Kaine McKelvey. It is published by the Rabbit Room in Nashville, TN. It is a compilation of liturgies, prayers, and readings for groups to read aloud together or to be read alone. It touches on almost every aspect of death and dying you can imagine. It may be worth your purchase depending on the life stage you are going through.
I’m glad he wrote this prayer. It gave me insight into some of the things to pray for a person going through this experience. All I can think of is the unimaginable pain of it. But there are a number of things to think of for this person as well as pray for him or her as they walk through the experience.
I own the book and have permission to share an individual reading here and there as long as neither I nor anyone I share it with is earning money from sharing it.
A Liturgy for Grieving a Death Due to Violence
Not like this, O Judge of All,
Not like this.
This is not the way I would write
the story’s end for one I love—
cut down by an intentional act
of unnecessary violence.
So random and surreal.
It is a crime, a loss, a shock, an evil,
and a tragedy all in one for their life
to be cut short like this, to have to
grieve a death that did not have to be,
the taking of this life in clear violation
of your good commandment.
O Christ, where is the justice that could
ever make this right, when no one can
restore what has been taken?
My life will not continue as before.
I cannot be so happy or carefree.
This loss, and the manner of this loss,
is like a caustic fog, permeating everything.
I surely cannot change what happened.
Or make sense of it.
Or find some lesson in it.
Or force the wheels of justice.
to spin to a satisfying end.
And so I am left feeling vulnerable
and violated, and helpless.
Be my refuge and my shelter, O Lord.
Be my shield and defender.
Hold me in this hour; hold me through this long, dark night when death’s shadow obstructs the light;
cradle and carry me through this vale of sorrows; deliver me to higher ground. Let justice roll down, O Christ.
Lift my head that I might see new evidence of your mercies in my life. I am too weak to walk this path alone,
or to power through by forcr of my own will.
I know, O God, that you would have me be completely honest in my words to you,
voicing even these discouragements and volatile emotions.
And you are more than able to bear their weight, never wavering in your constant love and care for me.
For you, O God, watched one you love die violently—your only son.
You sympathize with me. So I will freely speak to you the depths of what I feel.
O Holy Spirit, hover now over the chaos of
this broken world,
this broken situation,
and my broken heart.
and from them call forth new mercies
and new hope:
From fields seeded with mortal sorrows,
let me one day reap a harvest of immortal joys.
Form this stony soil of human hatreds,
let fountains of divine love burst forth,
let streams of gladness run and pool,
let shoots of verdant mercy root and bloom.
Over all this dark and weary land,
let your eternal gloris rise, radiant as
a dawning sun dispelling a black
and tragic night.
From this very heart of death, O God,
call forth new and everlasting life.