Five years ago today I lost my only sibling and someone I loved and admired very much. During those first weeks and months the tears flowed endlessly and still today, the pain is just as intense, but it comes less frequently (although still too frequently). I once read someone’s account of losing a loved one and it was very relatable. Grief is like a tsunami that pours over you with enormous pain. In the beginning, the waves come regularly and frequently. Over time, the waves come less often but the intensity of pain when they hit is still as strong as those first hours and days. 

Much has happened since that awful day. I wonder what Greg’s life would be like if he had lived and as much as I would wish him back in my life, I wrestle with knowing he is healed and where he ultimately intended to be—with our Lord in Heaven.
Recently a friend from my small group in church passed away. She was a mighty athlete competing in iron man challenges, but unfortunately was diagnosed with a somewhat rare and terminal disease that took away her abilities to live in the manner she was used to. We prayed for several years for a cure so she could be healed but in the end she went to the Lord too soon. Later, my wise small group leader said our prayers were answered because when she went to Heaven she was healed. She now has a glorious new body and feels no pain.

I remember many prayers I asked God for concerning my brother. I wanted his relationships to heal, his body to heal, and for him to find peace and happiness. And while he left us too soon (from our perspective), God healed him. He now feels no pain, he is with our Savior, and is awaiting us all in the Kingdom.

My parents, his children, and I miss him every single day. He was a glue and stable force in our lives. He was an amazing role model and I really wish he was still around to be an example of God’s love in his children’s lives. The way he lived his life and accepted me for who I was and his love led me to seek Jesus as an adult. God was in my heart but I was wandering lost for many years until my adult relationship with Greg took off and I saw how God could bring peace, a feeling of content, fun, and love in my life.

He affected many people in a positive way through his mission trips, work with Campus Crusade for Christ, volunteering at church, and being a solid base of support for friends, family, and others who just happened to cross his path.

Greg’s kids and our family and his close friends meant the world to him. He struggled those last years of his life, but was giving his all for his family regardless of how life was hitting him. I will never forget God giving us that last day. Greg called to ask me to come up to visit for no reason—just hey let’s get together. That was a week before he died. I really felt like God gave me that last day to see him and have fun before we would be separated for the decades I would have to live without him before God called me home.

So, I still spend some nights crying because he is gone and because of the fall out of being separated from some of my family members, and for the kids and my parents missing their father and son. But, I will always be grateful to God for giving me the best big brother a girl could ask for.

In Greg’s memory, our family created a charity called the Masterpiece Fund. We are honoring the character and principles my brother stood for by giving funds to people throughout the world who need love and support. Greg’s last bible study included a scripture reading from Ephesians 2:10 which inspired the charity.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for long ago.”

The pain of loss we feel when loved ones die is why we must remember to respect all life. Whether friends or strangers. If death of loved ones didn’t hurt so much we would not respect life at all. I think we need to remember that the death of strangers is as much of a pain to someone else as our loved one’s passing means to us. In honor of Greg, let’s remember what Jesus asked us to do.

“I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you.”
John 13:34

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Milestones mark our time. I’m not sure why we mark time like that—maybe to organize our lives, remember important life-changing events, or because we need to put something in perspective? Sometimes that may be good—like giving parents a sense of how and what lessons to teach their children (e.g., financial responsibility in high school vs. when they are 40). Sometimes I think it’s not so good—expecting to achieve certain goals because you have reached a certain time in your life.

I’m just saying, time is weird and it’s “relative.” For me, the past six months have been sad and stressful. There have been moments of love and laughter and hope as well. But the time since my brother passed seems like an eternity and yesterday at the same time. As I arrive at a milestone, or pass by a place where we made a fun memory, or come to a day we celebrated during the year, the grief comes back like a truck that hits me all over again.

I’ve been told by many who have lost loved ones that this grief period goes on for quite awhile. I guess that’s so we remember how precious life is and how important our loved ones are. I really miss my family and the fun things we’d do together on weekends, but I hope with time that they (and me) can heal and remember Greg without crying too hard. Seriously, I really should buy stock in Kleenex.

Well, yesterday was an anniversary of September 11 and today I am thinking about my family and my brother, and my friends who are also grieving or facing a big challenge. But I don’t want you to leave this blog feeling all boo—yucky and pathetically sad. So, I’ll leave you with something to hopefully make you smile and know that “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (A Time for Everthing)