Grief: Not everyone grieves the same way…

…and that is okay!  We experience all kinds of difficult emotions and it may feel like the pain and sadness we’re experiencing will never end. These are normal reactions to loss. Because there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is a natural response to loss.

My son lost his best friend 14 months ago.  He was a healthy, 20 year old, majoring in medicine, stand-out football player, servant, incredibly kind-hearted and generous young man.  He contracted a rare virus that began to weaken his strong, healthy heart.

He and my son spent an abundance of time together on and off the football field.  Big, strong linemen, with tender hearts. They shared a love for hunting, and were building a duck blind for the upcoming hunting season.  Even though this young man was struggling physically, he didn’t let his condition get in the way of living life and seeing their project through to completion.

One Saturday evening, while they were driving home from a long day of construction on the duck blind, his heart stopped.  The boys were in a pick-up truck, hauling a trailer of wood, 1 mile from home, on a four lane road, traveling 50 mph.  My son, who was in the passenger seat, grabbed the steering wheel, led them across two lanes of on-coming traffic, over a few curbs and into the parking lot of a church.  As the truck picked up speed, my son, unbuckled his seat belt, still maintaining control of the vehicle, went up and over another curb, onto the lawn, while dodging, trees and light poles. He tried to get his friend to wake up, but nothing was working, and by that time they had gone over 300 yards, reaching a speed of close to 85 mph.  As my son moved to get in a better position, but the trailer swung out of control, causing the truck to roll over twice before landing passenger side down.

His one and only goal was to save his friend.  He called 911, as his adrenaline took over, he kicked out the windshield, tore the sunroof off with his hands, and completely covered from head to toe in glass, he began the impossible task to remove his 6 foot 6, 300lb friend from the truck.

My son was a hero that day.  His friend’s heart stopped before the crash happened, he was without oxygen for too long, and that is what caused his death 5 days later.  His family thanked my son for giving them 5 more days with their son, to grieve, what they knew was inevitable death.

I can’t fathom the courage and bravery, let alone every skill imaginable to drive an out of control vehicle, while pulling a trailer, watching your friend, sitting life-less next to you.  My son never left his side the 5 days following the accident.  I watched, with overwhelming sadness, as my son lay his 6 foot 1, 300lb body over his friend, and weep uncontrollably prior to his death.  I believe God saved my son that day, and I am truly grateful.  However, no one should have to experience that type of loss…ever!

And that, I believe, is why Cindy so eloquently put on paper the imagery and thoughts of what grief must have felt like for him.  He is the only external person she has drawn a picture for, that is specifically directed to his experience.  How incredibly special, thoughtful, and kind of this gifted part of me.  Me!  The person who CANNOT draw!  Not ever!  I am terrible at it and (I hate to admit this), have never liked art of any kind.

When I look at this picture, I am moved to tears for several reasons.  One of them is I can’t comprehend I actually helped create that. The part of me, Cindy, the artist.  Helping us all understand our grief, sadness, pain, abuse, abandonment, and trauma through art.  I thank God for this precious gift, not only for Cindy, her abilities, but how He made me, uniquely different and creative.  He knows every single thing about me, because He created me. Oh, how He loves me.  Psalm 139:13 says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  

Below the framed picture is the caption written by Cindy to my son.

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“Not one of us chooses grief.  It simply has a way of reaching out and locking hands with you.  We have no recourse but to allow this painful reality to meet us face to face.  Forever to be altered, is our view of life, its fragility, uncertainty and beauty. Those who experience this deep loss, will embark on a journey no one will understand, unless they to, have walked this path.  Grief…It never ends, but it will change.  You won’t forget, but you will heal.  You are not weak, you are hurting.  You cannot control it, only feel its presence, its emotions and tears.  For when you love someone deeply, you will also grieve with the same depth.  Any you, you have loved well!”
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