My heart goes out to the families and survivors of the Colorado massacre. Their grief and anger will surely be made all the worse for that killing spree seeming utterly senseless and without any apparent motive. Death for a cause, even if it is an unworthy one, is almost bearable, but coming to terms with death without a price is beyond imagination. Even if Holmes chooses, at some future point, to make his motive known there can be none that would pass muster as anything other than the rantings of a deranged mind.
If he had done what most other mass murderers have done, which was to kill themselves or be killed by the police right after the mass killing, the families and survivors might at least have had the satisfaction that he, too, had paid the ultimate price and they could have at least begun the task of healing their lives within days. As it is, the likelihood is that the prosecution of Holmes will take many months which will only prolong the agony for everyone. In fact, if the prosecutors go for the death penalty, it could be a good many years before the whole affair is wrapped up, never mind months.
The word commonly used, on behalf of the victims to mark the end of their ordeal is a word I hate. Closure. I hate it because I believe that without forgiveness there is no such thing as closure. Even if justice seems to have been served and the person is punished or even executed, there is no end to the pain attached to what happened until there is forgiveness. Only then is peace possible. Even then it has to be Radical Forgiveness, not the conventional kind. (Conventional forgiveness is much the same as kidding yourself you have closure.)
However, for those in pain at this time I do not advocate forgiveness. Not even Radical Forgiveness. Not yet. They will first need to be fully supported in going through the experience of feeling the grief, sadness, anger, rage and fear before they can even start on forgiveness.
The reason I mention this now, though, before I and everyone else move on to other things, is to urge the families and survivors to make an early choice for forgiveness rather than closure, even if to do so is premature at this time. If closure can only come at the end, they could be trapped in pain for years as they get dragged, emotionally if not literally, through the endless and ugly process of trying Holmes in court and sentencing him. They would be forced to relive the event many times over. If he were to get the death penalty, it might easily be ten or more years before the so-called ‘closure’ would come, presumably with his execution. If they begin now to open themselves to healing through Radical Forgiveness as soon as possible, they could be at peace in just a few months, emotionally unscathed by the legal process way before it is all over.