POINT PLEASANT — Sometimes, bad things happen to good people and we grieve.
In the week since a tragic house fire took the lives of two young people and left a family homeless and heartbroken, it has also left a community feeling vulnerable to those bad things, and to grief.
Karen Yost, CEO of Prestera, said to her, grief is like a roller coaster for people who all grieve in different ways. As Yost pointed out, communities, particularly small communities, grieve too when tragedy occurs and residents try to do something to help - from bringing food to simply keeping their neighbors company.
“Support is one of the key factors in healing,” Yost said. “Not everyone is comfortable talking about our feelings but being able to share a loss with someone else, it’s sometimes helpful.”
During a time of stress and grief, Yost said people will think there’s something wrong with them because life feels so changed. She said fear, anger, guilt, sadness, physical symptoms are all understandably “normal reactions to abnormal situations.”
For many, people cope with grief through faith. Pastor Carl “Boxer” Swisher of Point Pleasant’s First Church of God, said in times of tragedy, often the first thing people do is ask “Why?” Or, “Where were you, God?”
“They ask, ‘where are You (God) during these times, You’re an all knowing, all loving God, how could You allow something like this to happen…and there’s no answer,” Swisher said. “We don’t hear God speak, because we have his word.”
Swisher said he turns to the Bible for guidance but unfortunately, tribulations come for us all.
“God has never promised you are automatically surrounded by heads of protection, that nothing tragic would happen to you but He says in his Word, it will rain on the just as well as the unjust,” Swisher said. “We are just as susceptible to tragedies like death, cancer, like losing a family. He didn’t cause these things to happen, life happens, the good, bad and ugly of life happens.”
Swisher said during these time of grief, and how people experience that grief is different for everyone but to him God is an “endearing Father who wants to put his arms around his children and bring peace.”
Swisher admits some people sometimes get angry at God, that even he’s been angry and disappointed at God but he is a firm believer that all things work together for the good of those that love God.
“I’m a Romans Chapter 8 verse 28 kind of guy,” he said.
For the record that verse goes: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Still, he admits, there are some tragedies where it’s hard to see the good coming from it.
Despite this, Swisher, like many others, have remarked on the community coming together in the wake of the recent tragedy; at walls between people coming down to provide assistance.
There’s an African word, Ubuntu, that has no translation in English but means “human kindness” or “humanness.” It suggests there’s a universal bond of sharing and caring for one another that connects all of humanity.
“My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours,” Bishop Desmond Tutu, a social rights activist, is quoted as saying about the philosophy of Ubuntu. “We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘a person is a person through other persons.’”
Or, as Swisher put it, “We put people into groups, we’ve gotten into the habit of putting people into categories but God loves everybody.”