A new hope: Turning grief into action

In times of tragedy and grief it may seem impossible to find hope for better days.  Speaking to women leaders at Reykjavík Global Forum 2019, Sawyer Garrity expressed feelings of the hopelessness she felt following the tragic loss of 17 classmates. Sawyer, founder of ShineMSD, is a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which took place on February 14, 2018.  Overcome by grief, Sawyer once again found hope through music. First describing to the audience the tragedy as it unfolded, Sawyer then performed a powerful original composition, Shine.


Shine is a song Sawyer co-wrote to express her search for inner peace. Soon, it became an anthem for those in her community who also longed for hope in times of darkness. Seeing the power of artistic expression, Sawyer co-founded ShineMSD, a non-profit centered on healing through the arts. Her vision for ShineMSD is to let others who have experienced tragedy know, “No matter how dark things are now, some day, one day, there is hope that it could get better.” Sawyer envisions expanding the work of ShineMSD to communities around the world, inspiring hope and unity in the wake of tragedy.    


The world is now in a stage of grief, facing a deadly pandemic. Families and friends around the world are grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. In times of tragedy and crisis, inequalities are exacerbated. Equality is eroding as reports of gender based-violence rise and economic opportunities,  in particular for women, become strained. A blanket of darkness seems to cover the earth, as an end of this pandemic remains out of sight. During these times, we must learn from the resiliency found in uniting together. 


Sawyer describes this sentiment in the lyrics of Shine, “You may have brought the darkness, but together we will shine the light.” Sawyer teaches the world that by working together, we too can turn our grief into action. 


This leads us to find hope during periods of tragedy and uncertainty, empowering a vision of a renewed future.  This leads us to find inspiration among the new generation and to give visibility to their actions and their strives because they are building a better future, a better world to live in.