Photo: Hans Benn
On February 1st, my step-son, Brad, passed away. Brad was 29 years old, an Army Veteran, and a survivor of 4 traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, pain, and PTSD. He was a warrior to the core. The last year before his passing, the family was able to pour love into him during the recovery from his latest TBI – a motorcycle accident in March 2018. The news of his death ten months later was a blow. The grief was and still is palpable. No one was prepared. No one saw it coming.
Grief is a strange and ugly bird of prey – poking, prodding, and pulling at the heart – circling around a carcass on the highway waiting for life to stop so it can swoop in and pick the bones clean. Impatiently bullying its way in, stopping traffic causing pileups and wrecks, grief has a job to do, but it causes trouble.
- No one said grief makes the brain shut down while the heart is breaking. The brain stops working, it’s just not connecting, and the thoughts are muddled. The wires rerouted to keep the heart beating. The brain is unplugged.
- No one said the crying would be painful, like a dam of tears ripping eyes blind. The saltiness fogging the vision while waiting for the wave to pass. The eyes are dim.
- No one gave insight into how disbelief, anger, frustration, and heartache would swirl into a stew to upend the mental state. Struggling to wrestle these to the ground and keep them under control – the emotions run wild.
- No one told me of the anguish in watching others suffer far more than what was just described. Far, far more – Brad’s father (my husband), and Brad’s mother, his sister, brothers, grandfather, and nephew, and his devoted friends. Watching the grief rip at their hearts with no weapons to fight it off – horror movie. The helplessness is too much.
But do I give up hope? Never! Brad was a warrior, a fighter, a survivor of unimaginable trauma. He died that day in March 2018 and was brought back to life by first responders and then brilliant doctors. He recovered enough to have a pretty normal life. He could live, be happy, spend time with family, have friends and enjoy himself. This, I must do too.
Praying for our spirits to hold strong, our hearts to mend, our minds to find wholeness, while grief picks us clean to the bone. Then, with renewed flesh and spirit, we live life again in peace through God’s safe, loving and compassionate arms until we are called home, too.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NIV