I don't think we're supposed to have words for a time like this.
Scroll through social media for a few minutes today, and you'll find countless examples of people expressing that they "have no words" for what happened in Manchester on Monday night. They don't, and none of us should. It appears to have been a loathsome attack on a concert audience full of young people, conducted by someone bent on terrorizing the civilized world.
If we had words for a time like this -- if we had rituals for reacting -- then we would be acknowledging this kind of attack as something normal. We should resist that normalization.
We have prayers, songs, and poetry to address death, because we know that it is inevitable. Those rituals give us an order for expressing grief, and we need them for that purpose.
We have protocols, exercises, and organizations to help us come to the aid of the injured and the grieving, because we know that misfortune is a part of life. They help us to channel our efforts so that we can do unto others as we would have the do unto us, and they permit us to act with compassion and humanity.
But we should reject the instinct to try to bring some similar kind of order to our understanding of acts meant to inflict terror on us all. It should never seem normal, never seem routine, never seem like something we accommodate as if it is inevitable.
Innocent people, many of them mere children, were attacked while they were gathered peacefully to enjoy music. Many of them will never go home.
There are no words. There shouldn't be.