Several years ago I heard the commercials for GriefShare on our local Christian radio station and knew right away that it was a ministry I wanted to be able to provide to our community. Little did I realize that there were some areas in my life that I hadn’t completely walked through relating to grief, and I soon found myself in a position as a student, too. In addition to personal growth in my own areas of loss, I quickly recognized how differently each person grieves and it’s helped me to be far more empathetic towards others who may deal with grief differently than me.
I have suffered much loss over the course of the last 10 years. I lost the only grandparent I ever knew. Shortly after that, unbeknownst to me, my wife no longer was interested in marriage, and she chose to leave the relationship. Then in 2009, I lost my brother-in-law to cancer, followed quickly by the birth of my son and the unexpected death of my father to a massive heart attack.
Each of these life events brought on a large variance of emotion and struggle as I tried to figure out how my life would change with each one. Although I never sought professional counseling, I was surrounded with an amazing group of friends who loved, prayed, and counseled me when I needed them. I attribute so much of my recovery to their faithfulness to support me with a godly kind of love.
I would say that the initial hardest blow I received was the decision of my wife to walk away from our marriage. Not only had she been by best friend but also my ministry partner. Like everyone else, I thought I would be married to her for life. When I got the news I felt about as lost and confused as anyone I’ve ever known. Despite all my attempts to woo her back she had already made up her mind to start her life over which meant a new chapter would begin in my life. To the glory of God, I have been blessed abundantly more than I could ask or imagine as God not only gifted me with the greatest wife, friend, and helpmate, but in these midlife years that I’m living in He also gave me a miracle son. If I could encourage anyone through this, please know that although I didn’t walk through everything perfectly, I did my best to honor my covenant before the Lord. Through the process I can say that He has more than restored to me everything that had been lost as He does for each of us that put our hope in Him.
My next season of loss came 7 years later, in 2009, when my 49 year old brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer that rapidly spread throughout his body. Not only was it hard watching him go through the process of dying, but it was difficult knowing that he was going to leave behind two preteen boys and a wonderful marriage to my sister. His cancer came about as a result of smoking. I have been angry for a long time at how that one addiction led to the loss of a great husband, father, and friend, and it all could have been prevented by one important decision. My sister and her two boys are doing well, but each time we meet there is still the emptiness of his presence.
My son was born the same month that my brother-in-law passed away. In a season that ordinarily would have been exciting for the family, it was the daily reminder that a great family member was gone. Then, in October my dad suffered a massive heart attack doing what he loved to do most, bowling. What I’ve found in my own experiences to date is that whether someone close to you dies unexpectedly or not, the grieving process is difficult because someone close to you is gone. My dad was the guy that I would go to for counseling on certain matters, and I was looking forward to him being a grandfather to my son. Not having that person anymore has certainly left a hole in our lives.
After 10 weeks of going through Grief Share with Chaplain Liz and Susan, I found that there were areas that God needed to do some chiseling on in my own life. I needed to hear from their experiences and from the testimonies of others in the video series and in the class. I am grateful for the work and ministry of SCSM and all the staff and volunteers that make it possible for this ministry to be in the community.