6 Things I’ve Learned About Grief

Navigating The Losses Of Life

Last week marked six years since my brother died. I’ve thought about him and the intervening six years a lot over the past few weeks. My brother was possibly the best human I’ve ever known. Our family didn’t have a lot, and it had even less when he and my sister were growing up (he was 13 years older than me). So, when it came time for college he had to cut his own path. He enrolled in a college 5 hours from home. He stayed with an uncle and aunt close by to save money. He took classes by day and worked at night, living off of tuna fish and Vienna sausages in between classes.  After gradation, he got a job with Carolina Power and Light company. He was a hard worker and did well. He married, bought a house, and raised three daughters. Life was good, but still somehow felt a bit incomplete. Over the course of many months he realized that he was being called to a new direction in life, that of a full-time pastor.  He left the security of his job to pursue a ministry degree and chased his calling.

Growing up, I would wait at home for my brother, counting the days until his next visit. I idolized him, and I’m sure I was annoying in the ways that only a hero-worshipping 7 year old can be. He was always patient with me, making time for me. I always felt I was important to him. He was the one who taught me how to change the oil in my car, and how to use a chainsaw. We went to games together and backpacked. Time with him was always refreshing, and I never stopped looking forward to being able to hang out together.  Our paths later joined up at seminary. I began a year after he did. We roomed together on campus on the  couple of nights that he stayed over in the dorm (he commuted home most of the time). I would give anything to have one of those nights back. After classes we would grab dinner and talk about life, family, ministry, and how my Dolphins were going to have a better season that his Raiders, or vice versa.  When you lose someone you love, you come to realize that the ordinary moments of life are often the most valuable.

I wish I could write something that would convey the quality of person my brother was, but I just don’t have the ability.  He was my anchor in many ways, and he impacted everyone he came into contact with. He was humble and thoughtful. He was everything I will try to become, but never fully reach. The hole that remains in my life now that he’s gone will never fully go away.

As I look back over the years since his death, I recognize six different things that I’ve learned about grief. Devastating losses don’t have to destroy your life. In fact, those we love would never have wanted our life to derail forever. Wounds can heal and life can move forward. Over the next few weeks I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned. If you are grieving or know someone who is, direct them to my site. I hope it helps.

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10 thoughts on “6 Things I’ve Learned About Grief

  1. Your description of your brother is beautiful! You are so right about everyday life being the most precious.. so slow & sweet.

  2. My husband and I was members of the Church where Randy was the Pastor when he passed away. My husband passed away in November of 2009. So Randy and I had conservations about his passing. Then he passed and Margaret and I had some conversation about loss. However some of the things that I have learned is : time does lessen the intensity of the sadness; the memories have gotten sweeter; God and Charles wants me to move on with my life and continue to serve God, I’ve been able to minister to others during their time of loose by sharing my experience with them. There is so much more that I could say.

    • Thanks Linda, it sounds like you have gained some valuable wisdom on your grief journey. I am so glad you are sharing with those in need around you. God bless!

  3. Randy pastored our church here in Collettsville NC for a while. It didn’t take long for my family to fall in love with him. He was a kind man with a big heart for people and GOD. He had a warm sprit that opened hard hearts to bring grace in love into his message. he would have some fun with us by telling us something funny along the way. Yes he was a brother to all who had the same sprit. We think about him a lot and know we will see him again one day. God bless you guys with kindness and mercy we will meet again someday.

    • Thanks Roger! I remember that church in Collettsville. I pray you guys are doing well. Have a great rest of your week!

  4. Thanks for this article and those to come. Randy was our pastor at Mt. Olive Baptist in Morganton and we all loved him. Still miss him so much. I am presently grieving the loss of a sister who was also my best friend, and as I have a brother who has ALS will be a long process I’m afraid. I look forward to your future articles.

    • Thanks Marylee! Randy was so blessed to be able to serve at Mt. Olive. He loved everyone there. I will be praying for your family!