To the families and loved ones of those killed in Orlando... I'm sorry.
I know that is an underwhelming response to the nightmare that started for you on Saturday, but it is all I have. I am not in a position to offer a solution and I am not smart enough to provide an answer. I just have an apology. This shouldn't have happened. I'm sorry that your reality has been shattered and that things are so different from the way they were before. You didn't deserve this. Nobody deserves this. Although I too have experienced great loss, I haven't any grand words of wisdom for you about coping with this. I only have a relatively large shoulder to offer.
Your loved ones entered that bar in Orlando with hopes and dreams. They went in to have fun and should have had the opportunity to keep singing, dancing, and living for many more years. That opportunity was tragically denied them. And I am profoundly sorry.
As a grieving father myself, I have entered that tunnel you find yourself peering into. It is long. It is dark. It is lonely and it is foreboding. There will be times during your journey when the walls narrow to impossible limits and you will curse the extra desserts you've been scarfing down for the last twenty years. I'm here to tell you that somehow you will get through. Often you will feel like sitting down -- your burden will seem too heavy and you will feel like you cannot move. Keep moving. Stumble forward as best you can. (Notice I don't say "move on" -- there is no moving on from this, there is only moving forward.)
Though the air is sucked from your chest and the darkness absolute at times, there will be moments of profound light that you could never imagine. In the midst of her battle with cancer, my daughter, Kylie made this statement:
"... and the beauty and light in the worst of it, is the prettiest and most blinding."
She was only twelve but she was right. The agony of grief illuminates even the tiniest sliver of joy. I don't know how, where, or when your slivers of light will come because everyone's struggle through grief is different. But I hope you find them quickly.
If you will permit me, I'd like to offer you one piece of advice that runs directly opposed to the advice I am about to give: Don't listen to anyone offering advice. If someone says they have a song to share with you, smile and accept it but you may want to set it aside. You can cry on your own without the power of music. If they offer the perfect article they found online or a Bible verse, understand that they are trying to help in their way, but be careful what you read. Words seldom give comfort. When someone calls or texts their support, answer if you have the power... or don't. And never allow anyone make you feel bad for refusing their call, song, or words. This is your grief to manage and there is no absolute right or wrong. There is only right or wrong for you.
The people you need are the ones who wordlessly sit beside you and hold your hand. Make room for those quiet ones. Give them your tears because they will be responsible with them.
I think you should know that tears will become your bedfellow. Regardless of how strong you think you are, they will sneak up and find you at the oddest of moments -- in a meeting, at the grocery store, or while you are mowing your confounded lawn. Tears are annoyingly sudden and have the power to pull you away like a torrential flood. Don't deny them. Own them. Own them as a badge to cry out to anyone who will listen that this world is a poorer place because of the lives denied by this senseless act of cowardice.
And throughout it all, know that you aren't alone. There are a great many of us who are experiencing grief alongside you. We are a terrific band of losers, sorry to know each other but always ready to welcome more into the fold with a silent hug -- physical or digital -- because unfortunately this evil world keeps churning us out.
I don't know you, and probably never will, but in love I want to say that I am so very sorry for your loss.