Again another tragedy. While most of us shake our heads and cry for those affected we find ourselves at a loss. So we give a version of “I am so sorry for your loss,”. "You are in our thoughts and prayers". To some this is nothing more than a "I'm sorry for your loss" to others who believe in a higher power it is a powerful tool. Either way it is said out of something called empathy. Although most of us cannot even begin to understand what exactly people of a tragedy are feeling we are able to imagine their suffering and fear and to wonder how we would react in their place. It is called being compassionate.
The mocking of course starts right away. "Your thoughts and prayers are not enough!" This mocking only displays that persons lack of understanding. When people say "Thoughts and Prayers" they are reaching beyond themselves to offer some relief. Often, at the time it is the most someone can do. Especially if the tragedy is not happening in front of someone but is rather being reported from a far off location.
When we are confronted with suffering, everybody uses familiar phrases and behaviors. They help us get through the hardest of times. When your friend tells you about their divorce. Your co-worker received bad medical news. A death or a national tragedy. It's not the words that you use that are extremely important, it is your acknowledgement and empathy that are. It is a way of showing solidarity with those who suffer.
For those who think action should be taken instead of words of compassion are denying those who cannot do anything, especially in the wake of a tragedy of expressing their compassion and empathy. Maybe those who want to deny others from expressing themselves should try practicing some compassion, empathy and grace themselves. We need more of it.