Photo of Galib and Alan Kurdi
Image from the guardian.com
There is an outpouring of grief all over the world for the deaths of a three-year-old toddler, Alan Kurdi, his brother, Galib, and mother, Reham. We are at a loss for words to fully describe our sadness.
Why did it take such a tragedy to focus the world’s attention on the Syrian refugee crisis? I think it is because the story focuses on thousands of lives. It wasn’t a personal story, but it should have been. It’s easier to connect with now because it reminds us of how we would feel if we lost our family. We hear so much bad news on TV that we become de-sensitized. It becomes our defence mechanism, protecting us from that which is too devastating, too emotionally crippling to cope with.
For me it brings back a personal memory of my cousin, Paul, drowning at age eight, so much life left to live, killed far too early. He drowns when an oil barrel boat capsizes. His head hits a rock. He is swept away by the river current. His body is found three days later by his honourary Uncle Carl.
Paul was more than my cousin. He was my best friend. We were inseparable. We would pretend we were on courageous adventures together like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
I miss Paul terribly as I think about him today.
I empathize with Abdullah, the father. The grief of my Uncle Ben at the death of his son, Paul, ate away at him. Uncle Ben gave up on life. Six years later he died after an unsuccessful quadruple heart by-pass operation. His son, Stephen, who was in the oil barrel with Paul when it overturned, never has forgiven himself. He thought there was more he could have done to save Paul’s life.
The memory of being with my mother and other people from our town searching for Paul, hoping he is still alive, is vivid. I see his brother, Stephen, diving into the Beaver Valley River in my home town of Thornbury, Ontario. He is shaking all over with grief. He keeps frantically searching for Paul, hoping, praying, begging for him not to be dead.
We must not let these three tragic deaths be forgotten.
Through my tears remembering Paul’s death I reach out to the family. I ask you to pray for them. Pray also for the Syrian refugee crisis to be resolved. These three lives call out to us as a global community, to show our collective love is more powerful than all the hate and terror of this world.
The words of the composer, Burt Bacharach, in the lyrics by Hal David, come to mind. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.”
Let us show that love is for everyone, by welcoming the refugees to our shores, with open arms and hearts.
Karen Osborne B.A. Christian Clinical Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, graduate divinity student at Trinity College University of Toronto. Kevin Osborne, B. Th. Canada Christian College & Graduate School. B.A., M.A. Christian Clinical Counseling, postgraduate applied theology and counseling student St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, D.D., D. sc., Diplomate in Traumatology American Board of Traumatology Examiners of St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, Diplomate in Creative Ministry St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin Osborne is a member of The Word Guild, which is a Christian writer’s group that invites membership all around the world. Please go to https://thewordguild.com for further information.