Thoughts And Prayers: The Tragedies We Mourned This Year

A look back at a difficult year

Illustration: Tara Jacoby
Dec 26, 2016 at 2:00 PM ET

From the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando to terrorist acts overseas, 2016 saw more than its fair share of horrific violence. In our digital age, these tragedies were mourned both by those directly affected and by sympathizers from around the world, offering condolences online.

Often, those remembrances took a specific formulation, with posters offering or keeping victims in their “thoughts and prayers.” The three words — mocked by some as hollow or an inadequate response to series problems – nonetheless were most often used with genuine emotion.

As the year comes to an end, Vocativ analyzed over 2.98 million tweets using the term “thoughts and prayers” posted since January 1, to look back at some of the year’s most difficult, high-profile events.

The phrase hit its peak on June 12, the day of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. In the early hours of that morning, Omar Mateen opened fire in the crowded gay club, killing 49 people and wounding 53, in the bloodiest terror attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.

On March 22, terrorists carried out a wave of coordinated suicide attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up at the airport and a metro station, killing 32 people and wounding more than 300.

Not all the tragedies were terror. One day prior to the Pulse shooting, singer-songwriter and “Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie was shot dead at a concert at the age of 22.