Beirut: stories from the devastation.

Aggiornamento: 14 nov 2020

Father Yussef Abi Zeid, Director of the Family Institute of the University La Sagesse.

An artist lost her atelier and the majority of her works of art, almost 20 years of work. A few paintings, three unique icons she wrote, and the special tools for writing icons are all left. For an artist, losing her works is almost the same as losing a son. She was very depressed because no one in the family has a job: not her, not her husband, not her son and not her daughter. After talking to me, she realised that the icons were safe. She wanted to sell the other paintings in order to survive, except for these icons. I also pointed out at her that maybe God wanted her to write icons, because the tools to make them were safe. At the end, we prayed together. Two days after that I saw her smiling in the street: she had decided to carry out voluntary work to help the other victims of the disaster.

This is the story of a woman who lost her only son, a soldier in the Lebanese army, in an attack against them in northern Lebanon, twenty years ago. She was depressed too. When the explosion pushed her a few meters away, she felt that her life had come to an end, and she felt happy when she said to her son “now we will meet again”. But she survived and she fell back into depression. I made her notice that if she was still alive it meant she still had a mission to fulfil. She smiled while she said the following things: She told me that her two daughters (both married) still need her to take care of their children. But this does not conceal the wound due to the loss of her only son. She told me her two daughters take care of her without making her feel humiliated. For example, they open her fridge. If they see it is empty, they fill it up with vegetables and meat and they ask her to use those things to cook for them, and to use those ingredients for herself too if she needs them. She told us that she educated her children to love each other and to avoid lending money to each other if one of them is in need, but to give it as a gift. And now she enjoys the result of the education she gave to her children. Now they take care of her without making her feel humiliated for being in debt.

Lastly, there is the anger and frustration of many couples who worked during their entire life to end up with nothing, not even the strength they had when they were young in order to start again from scratch. However, in most houses the images of the Saints remained untouched, as a sign of the provident presence of the Lord.

There is still a great need for spiritual and psychological accompaniment and follow-up, especially for the young people who suffered a trauma or for those who lost a loved one. Some people saw a massacre: bones sticking out of legs, people with their eyeballs out of their sockets. A doctor could not go back to his work because the glass slit his patient’s throat while he was examining him. Children who were on the car with their mother saw how her head was cut off. A mother looking for her disappeared son had to go to the morgues of a lot hospitals during two days, seeing a lot of dead bodies, to end up finding out that her son was dead too.