BY ED NUÑEZ | January 12, 2016
Tragedy, grief, and sorrow. These things are part of the human condition. They are a part of life.
We all experience these at some point in our lives, sometimes too early and too often. These experiences give us to chance to grieve a loss and feel sorrow, but also celebrate life and see how it can affect our own lives in a positive way.
I had a few experiences with sorrow, tragedy, and grief last semester that made me question how I should approach life, and how I can build community each and every day.
On October 24, 2015, four young, beautiful, and promising women died in a car accident while traveling back from the midterm break. Three of them were current Creighton University students, and one was a recent graduate. They were part of a sorority that is well known on campus and were very amiable people, from stories that I heard. It was an unexpected tragedy that affected everyone on campus, from close friends of the women to people, like me, who did not know the women on a personal level.
Just three weeks later, a former president of Creighton, Fr. John P. Schlegel, S.J., passed away after a hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. He was an amazing pastor, administrator, professor, and friend to all who knew him. While his death was not unexpected, it did cause Creighton to remember his legacy and what it meant for Creighton as a university.
On December 10, 2015 a Creighton student died unexpectedly. She was junior and greatly involved in the Cortina Community, a living-learning community at Creighton focused on the tenets of service, faith, and justice – a community that I live in. She also was an aspiring scientist, who was involved in chemistry and physics research. She was a bright, funny, and beautiful person who brought humor and joy to everyone she met. Her death was indeed a tragedy for my close circle of friends, as she was a friend of them, also. Her life was short, but absolutely not forgotten.
And on December 15, a close friend of my family in Milwaukee, where I am originally from, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 21. His life was well lived, but taken much too early.
What does one make of these deaths, these sorrows, and these tragedies? At first, I was sorrowful and grieving. It is the natural human reaction to act in this way. When someone we love passes away, it hits us hard and we do not take it well. However, over time, the community comes together to grieve and support each other as one family. This is what happened last semester for me. In the midst of these sorrows, Creighton, as well as my family, came together even more than before. We supported each other, listened to each other’s questions — many of which went unanswered — and most of all, loved one another.
We do not, by any means, desire for tragedy or death to occur in order for a community to come together so strongly. Yet these sorrows do cause us to question our own lives, does it not? It caused me to question how I interact with others and how I approach my everyday life. Sometimes, we are too busy with our own lives that we do not really think how we can be there for others. Life is so fragile and so precious. Cherish life. And give thanks for life.
Yes, one must grief but through that grieving, one can find the light that a community and the support and comfort of others are what make life so precious and so valuable. And it will continue to be this way, because it is through community that life becomes treasured, valued, and loved.
Faith is not darkness. Faith is not sadness. Faith is not anger.
Faith is light, joy, and love.
It is through this faith that brings people together, in times of sorrow, to remember that they are not alone on the journey of life. Never.
May this faith help us find the light that will guide and be with us, even amidst the darkness and sadness that permeates this world.
“Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”
– Meister Eckhart
Ed Nuñez graduated from Creighton University in 2018 with a BA in justice and society and theology. At Creighton, he was involved with residential life, campus ministry, and service and justice programs. After graduation, Ed did a year of service with Amate House, working as a campus minister and support specialist at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago. Currently, Ed is back at Creighton as a graduate assistant in the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice and pursuing his MA in ministry.