Grief is one of those many faceted things that is kind of hard to define because it’s a process that has a starting point, a middle and no end.

I used to think that grief was an intense period of sadness that one experienced during a loss. I did in fact experience that aspect of grief to be sure, 12 years ago today when cops showed up at our door with a grief councilor to inform us that my brother was killed in a car accident. That aspect of grief is very real but the fatal flaw in my thinking was believing that I would experience that part of grief for a time and that grief would then end.

Most of what we experience is long, dull, mind numbingly constant and the very opposite of dramatic. It’s lack of drama is so pronounced and yet I cannot think of a word to best describe it. It involves going through the day to day of life while at the same time trying to reconstruct a puzzle with more than a few of the pieces gone.

It never quite looks right does it?

Yet we have to get on with the business of living. Which we do though never quite in the same way.

I have believed wrongly in the past that I don’t grieve well but at my therapist appointment today I was assured that I was actually really good at grieving. In fact the things that I sometimes secretly and sometimes not so secretly wish for, to be able to move through life unaffected by the sadness and the gravity of the loss I’ve experienced, would indicate that I wouldn’t be grieving well. To go through life without the sting of the emotion would be no life at all but sometimes the emotions are entirely too intense and I don’t feel that I express them with any kind of proper social filter.

I guess that makes me a bonafide expert on grief but there are no medals or Nobel prizes
to be awarded for this. There is only the mind numbing constant day to day getting on with life without some of the people that I most loved.

Even now, 12 years later it aches like an infected tooth that you cannot help but touch with your tongue. I’d ask for Novocain but that would just make me fiddle with it more. What I realy want, what I long for is the one thing that cannot be provided. It is that longing that pushes me toward the cross. Jesus longed for this world to be fixed without his having to die an excruciating death, he longed for the curse to never have happened, he longed for a people who would love him freely and without hesitation but that was the one thing that this world would not, could not provide.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it killed you? God did.

Because he died in the place I should have occupied I hope, and believe, and trust that someday I’ll see my brother again. I hope, and believe, and trust that this life isn’t all there is, that the things that get so violently cut short by the brokenness of this earth can begin again, and this time sin will have no hold on the outcome.

I miss my brother.



Seat Belts

seat belt

seat belt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is something that you should know about me. I don’t normally wear seat belts. It’s not that I forget to put it on I purposefully have refused to wear one. It’s not normally something that I talk about with many people, it’s kind of an awkward conversation right? Usually when someone points it out I’ll just buckle up, especially when riding in someone elses car. I figure it is a sign of respect towards someone in their own car. Besides, again, it would be an awkward conversation.

“Hey man make sure you buckle up.”

“Oh well I don’t normally wear seat belts”

“Why not?”

The thing is… I don’t really have a good answer for this, not one that would make sense to many folks. I have seen the data that has proven that wearing a seat belt is safer. I’ve also seen the sensationalist pictures and videos they show of what happens to people when they don’t.

But, you see, all the facts and data mean nothing to me. Because the one time I needed a seat belt to work it didn’t. Many of you who know me know that my brother died in a car accident back in 2001. He was wearing his belt and his airbag deployed. He still died. When you lose your best friend all the facts and data go right out the window.

If a seat belt couldn’t save the one person I needed it to save, what the hell do I care what happens to me?

See? I told you, not a good reason.

Well recently I got a new car, a 2006 Chevy HHR. Being a newer model car it has a signal that goes off after you’ve started driving that reminds you to buckle up. I was chatting with my wife about this and during the conversation she told me that it would mean a lot to her if I wore my seat belt while driving.

The things we do for love.

Don’t get me wrong, I think our need and desire for safety has in many ways led to much paranoia in our modern society, but if my wearing a seat belt is going to male my wife feel better about me driving than I can take the 2 seconds it takes to buckle up for her. But that’s not the real reason I’ve changed my mind

In Matthew 4 Jesus is tempted by Satan to show his power by throwing himself from off of a temple so that the angels would catch him. But Jesus resists saying that one should not put God to the test. When we do reckless things in life aren’t we putting God to the test? I think there is some truth to that but that’s also not the reason why I’ve changed my mind

In it’s own strange way, the signal informing me I’ve forgotten to buckle up has also informed me that it’s time that I let go of some of the strongholds I have held onto for so long. It has reminded me that life goes on. It’s just the next step in my healing that has been going on for some time. In a lot of ways my refusal to buckle up has been about anger, and my anger is one of the strongholds that has hindered my walk with God. It’s time that I start the process of letting it go.

So since buying the new car I have remembered to buckle up every time that I have driven it. It’s a small thing sure, one that many people do all of the time, but it’s a big step for me. As big a step as going back to church was. Maybe someday I’ll be able to claim that I’m not an angry person anymore. That’s my hope.

How about you? What is something seemingly small in your life that you feel you’ve been led to do that has helped with your healing?