‘Someday we will meet in a place, where darkness cannot find us.’
It is not often that my worldview feels challenged-but the last few days of world events have had the walls of my personal House of Truth swaying ever so slightly. Over the years I have formed an abiding faith in what I know to be a benevolent universe. I have nurtured a deep belief that out beyond the arid illusion of human suffering exists a well of meaning in which we can always fill our cup. The past 24 hours of revelations about the cause of the Germanwings airliner crash has emptied a lot of people’s cups. When I listen to the news reports my gut tightens around a particular paragraph that has been spoken over and over by hundreds:
“The screams of terrified passengers can be heard in the final minutes of the flight….’
As those words trail off into the silence that follows there is not one among us who does not feel horrified, heartbroken, numb….. How many adjectives would it take to capture the depth of emotion this scenario invokes? Collective grief is sharp, yet it is unfathomable to imagine what the families of these victims must feel like…
149 lives were lost…. 149 lives that were each a beautiful story. It is so hard to honor those stories when our thoughts are eclipsed by the vision of horror we have been left with. Those 149 lives are not that last moment…. they were lives like yours and mine; lives that were full of hope and promise and a million other little things that made them essential, and irreplaceable and …The thought of that last moment is unbearable….
How do we find that place where darkness cannot find us?
What if there was a small sliver of light to follow? One that offered another way to interpret what we know about those last moments of Germanwings flight 9525? What if those passengers could tell us that last story from the perspective of an observer?
They no longer have a voice…. but science does – and what it has to tell us is big medicine. My friend and colleague Dr. Michael Sabom has been able to document a biological process that appears to take over during traumatic events where death is imminent. Its formal name is peritraumatic dissociation. I just call it Grace.