Saturday, August 14, 2010


Ominous title, isn't it? For those who frequent this blog, you know that my description of this space doesn't include forays into topics like grief or Christianity or pain or longing or the human condition on a deeply emotional level. That will change today...and likely today only.

You see, a year ago, a good friend of many of us was killed in a tragic automobile accident. It was tragic because of how it happened. And, it was tragic not that another human being on this Earth was killed, but because this human being happened to be a father of three young boys, a loving husband, and a vital member of his community.

I know that deaths happen every day and amidst those deaths are similar stories of men and women dying too young, of families left behind, of communities shocked at the loss of a leader. I get that and don't suggest that this loss takes precedence over other similar situations. I write about this one only through the personal experience of a deeply felt loss and through my observations of the aftermath.

Our friend touched many, many lives. He was a vibrant presence who, while small in stature, could fill up and light up a room. He had an amazing wit which he used to his advantage--to put a person at ease, to elicit a laugh, to defuse a situation, or to simply help someone understand that he cared.

The outpouring of affection after this death was real. How could this happen!? What will we do now!? How can we help? And, in the midst of these questions came grief.

The dictionary defines grief as deep sorrow. There have been books written about the topic, sermons preached about the topic, psychoanalysis conducted on the topic and counseling groups arranged on the topic. There are stages of grief and levels of grief--it seemingly affects us all in different ways. There is no manual, no sermon, no counseling session that can solve grief. Is there anything else in life as complex?

The year since our friend's death has, at least for me, been one of reflection. What do I do differently knowing that life is so fleeting? How do I matter in this world? How can I help those who have lost, so suddenly, in life? And, how do I consider the relationships I have with others such that I make a difference?

The grief is still there. They say that time heals and I believe that to be the case. But, I also believe that a portion of me is gone, never to be replaced. That portion was filled by my friend and what he meant, just as a part of me was taken when other friends have passed.

Is there a final point--a punctuation to be made to this post? No--this topic deserves its own blog, or blogs. I write this brief post on grief today simply to state what might be the obvious--it's been a year and I still feel pain and loss. It's been a year and I still don't understand why bad things happen to good people.

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