I recently spent the evening with my sister’s family as they rode the waves of grief. They were reeling from the loss of an entire family of friends, gunned down in an unimaginable act of violent terror. There have been and will be tears of anguish, the constant questioning of why and how this can have happened, and those other questions—How will I go to the park when I’ve always gone there with my best friend? How will I wake up tomorrow and be forced to realize this isn’t a nightmare?

The teenage girl had nicknamed herself “the Moment.” She was unique and happy and comfortable in her own skin. She made people laugh. She loved—she simply loved, because that’s who she was.

In the middle of the night her uncle, fragile before military service and destroyed afterwards, came into her house and gunned down her family, then left to wreak his destruction on others, leaving seven holes in countless hearts.

Some humans are vulnerable to evil.

And yet people are basically, inherently good. The outpouring of concern, of heart-felt compassion and love, has been amazing to witness. When we focus the spotlight of attention on such a tragedy, as happens too often these days, our hearts crack open a little more. We feel each others’ grief.

In the face of heartache and loss, with hearts wide open and in suffocating pain, we have two choices: we can respond by shutting down, by closing off, by building another layer on top of our hearts. Or we can move through the pain, and in the depth of our feeling realize the deep love that binds us all. Our hearts can soften in the crucible of despair and become more pure and beautiful because of it.

The innocents who seem to sacrifice themselves every day in more or less public ways seem to be singing out from the other side: don’t lose faith. We are still here and we still love. Be happy and be kind to one another. And simply love.