Grieving Las Vegas: We Weep and Then We Work

Waking up to the news of the atrocities in Las Vegas, it is difficult to find words to say. As peacemakers who often find ourselves responding to tragedies, we are grounded this morning in the words of our Executive Director: “We weep and then we work.”

“We Weep”

 Today, we weep. We weep for the lives lost, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who will deal with this trauma for the rest of their lives…for the fact that human beings inflict violence on other human beings.

And, we will work. As members of the United Religions Initiative family have done for years, we will continue to work for peace. We will continue to provide safe places healing. We will continue to be guided by our religious, spiritual lives to build community. We will continue to be bridge builders.

We have reached out to our URI family members at the Interfaith Council of Southern NevadaSo far, we have not heard of any loss of life from within this community. They are in the process of planning an interfaith vigil for this evening at the Catholic Cathedral. Gard Jameson, chair of the Interfaith Council (and a member of this email list), sent this message this morning:  

“Blessings to our URI family. It is a great consolation to know that our worldwide URI family stands united in prayer and a willingness to help bring peace to our troubled world.

Our faith is so much bigger than the tyrants and those who would divide us.”

“We Work”: Resources

We know many communities will be planning interfaith vigils to provide a place for communities to grieve, process and come together. Below is a collection of resources that, while not designed for this specific situation, may provide useful ideas and guidance for your planning. 

  • Planning:
    • Guidelines for Designing a Multifaith Prayer Service: This toolkit is a comprehensive guide to planning and designing a multifaith prayer service for a diversity of circumstances. It provides insights into practical considerations, such as space, diversity, ceremonies selected, etc.
    • Prayer Vigils: A How-To Guide: Similar to the guide above, this toolkit guides you through the planning of a prayer vigil, specifically through the lens of the Lutheran tradition.
  • Service Design/Elements:
    • Sample Memorial Service: This resource is a sample order of service designed to be used for the loss of a child. This service includes poems, reflections, a candelighting and call and response focused on remembering the dead.
    • Gathering of Remembrance:  This sample service provides the framework for a service based around sharing from audience members.  You can view another sample service with this framework here 
    • Prayers for Peace: All traditions pray for peace. Here are sample prayers from a diversity of traditions.
  • Contemplative Practices (shared by the Contemplative Life Cooperation Circle)
    • Buddhist Practices for Times of Tragedy: These practices, suggested by URI members from Contemplative Life, come from Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön and Zen teacher Bernie Glassman.
    • Do you have children in your life that are distressed by this event?practice_self_compassion_break At this link you can find a variety of mindfulness exercise to help calm their mind and spirit.
    • This transcript of a talk offered by Tich Nhat Hanh shortly after 9/11 focuses on cultivating compassion in responding to violence.
    • Studies show that compassion can be strengthened through targeted exercises and practices. This guided compassion meditation practice is one way to strengthen your compassion in this difficult time.
    • This guide is designed to help you explore the power of compassion in your own and others’ lives by providing tools for facilitating conversations about compassion in your community, organization, business, or school.
    • The “Just Like Me” meditation is designed to help you develop compassion to those around you – both enemies and friends.
    • As activists, taking care of ourselves is of the utmost importance. This practice walks you through taking a self-compassion break in the midst of suffering.
If you know of additional resources – either for vigils or other actions – that would be helpful, please email us at If your community is engaging in an action (vigil or otherwise), please let us know as well. You can read this article for ideas for individual actions, such as donating blood.