October 4, 2017

In times of Tragedy, please Spare Me your Thoughts & Prayers.

It happens every time there is a tragedy—the news breaks, and people start posting on social media that they are “sending thoughts and prayers.”

Every time I see it, it makes me want to scream.

Don’t get me wrong—I believe in love and light and prayers as much as the next woo-woo spiritualist out there. But, I also believe that for many, “thoughts and prayers” are an easy way out. We can send our thoughts and prayers, assuage our conscience, and feel okay without actually putting boots to the ground.

I’ve experienced tragedy, and I can tell you that the most exasperating thing that happened was all the people who sent “prayers,” but failed to follow up with action.

Prayers are nice. Thoughts are nice. They are sweet, little token gestures that may make a difference, and they certainly help a person feel less isolated, but it can’t stop there.

When my son received a heart transplant in infancy, the people I remember the most were the ones who showed up.

It was the friend who came by with a pizza for my family. It was the friends who brought meals and sat with us for a while. It was the friends who volunteered to go clean my house and get it ready for us to come home. It was the friends who went to walk my dog. It was the people who showed up with coffee, gift cards, and who hosted fundraisers to help my family offset the cost of major surgery. It was the friends who went to the hospital and donated blood. It was my friend who showed up at the hospital and stayed with me for hours.

I have seen far too many people send “thoughts and prayers” in times of tragedy, when what is needed is monetary donations, physical support, and other practical needs.

The people in Vegas need blood donations, not thoughts. In addition to your prayers, they need money to help bury their loved ones. They need crisis counselors, and support systems, and people who will show the hell up and do whatever needs to be done.

They need someone to coordinate a meal train for the next month, so they can grieve or heal without having to concern themselves with practical issues. They need someone who can take donations and help them pay their bills while they recover.

In my work, I draw from many different spiritual traditions—and the one that is coming to mind for me now is the Bible verse that says, “Faith without works is dead.” And, that is the call to arms I am issuing today.

Exercise your faith—whatever it might be—on behalf of those who are hurting. Light candles, say prayers, and send love, light, and good vibes. Bathe them in your golden light, your mystical magic—and then, when you’re finished…

Do something tangible.



The Dalai Lama: Prayer is not Enough.

6 Meaningful Ways to Help Others.


Author: Lisa Vallejos
Image: Flickr/BKMax Pixel
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Callie Rushton

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