Today on the campus of the University of Notre Dame there is a memorial mass for a student who died yesterday afternoon. ¬†You may have seen or read about the story; Declan Sullivan was filming the football team during practice, and the entire team witnessed the accident that led to Declan’s death.

I was truly saddened¬†to hear of this accident yesterday. It was an accident (that from preliminary indications was) caused by weather- Just as our bus accident was caused by weather. But right now the nature of the accident doesn’t really matter.

There is a young life, a 20-year-old, gone too soon. There is a family in mourning and a campus in shock, grief and disbelief. There is a team trying to absorb and make sense of what they saw. These are emotions that I know all too well, and they come back very quickly – no matter how long it has been.

As much as this is not about me, I can not help but feel the pain of Declan’s friends. Many of us have felt that pain. My teammates and I struggled with death at a young age. I know the emotions that will run through the team and the video department: what if? anger, shock, sadness, confusion.

When tragedy happens, we have to mourn. We have to mourn and we have to give ourselves time to heal, and we have to give ourselves the best chance at healing. And although it is the site of the sadness (and was for me), Notre Dame is a wonderful place to heal. It is a faith-filled community (even for those of us who were not Catholic); it is a powerful and prayerful community that will strengthen you when you don’t even know you are weak. None of us are immune from tragedy in our lives and all of us need a community like this to help make sense of the non-sensical.

My heart is broken for the Sullivan family. My soul aches for his friends and classmates, and my eyes are teary for the many emotions that this community will face in the coming days and weeks. God Bless all of you – at Notre Dame and beyond – who are hurting in sadness for whatever reason at this time. You are in our prayers.