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

Yes, I’m in a bubble. A bubble filled with images and memories of a brother and friend who I miss dearly. This man, my brother, Greg Crowe, was instrumental in my walk with Christ. He was a remarkable father to four beautiful children and a faithful, loving husband and son.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to write as I go through the textbook stages of grief. The loss on March 12 of our dear friend will change the world. It’s changed mine and it will certainly change for Zenia, Julia, Tyler, and Harmon as well as numerous family members and friends. Now I know just how painful it is when I hear someone else who has lost a close loved one. I’ve lost friends before but this is so different and so hurtful.
 

I know that Greg is with Jesus in Heaven. I know his pain is gone and I’m glad of it. But I am struggling, I’ll admit it. I’m so sad that I can’t get to this place of happiness for him because I am still blinded by tears and I am struggling in my discussions with God.

I’ve been involved in a small group discussion about a book from our pastor Mark Batterson. It’s called The Circle Maker. I even started a prayer journal. As I wrote down my prayers over the past few months, I felt like I could endure and keep praying and felt assured that God would fulfill them. I admit I wasn’t sure if I was asking the right things but I was sure they all came from a good place in my heart.  

But then when Greg died I felt like God not only did not answer my prayers, he did things in His own way that made it hard to hope or pray for anything. When I asked Him to heal Greg’s back pain, I didn’t mean for God to take him to Heaven. When I prayed for Greg’s financial troubles to be fixed, I didn’t mean for God to take him to Heaven and leave the rest to us. When I prayed for reconciliation between Greg and his wife I didn’t mean for God to take Greg to Heaven and end permanently that relationship on earth.

So I’ll admit it. I’m afraid to pray for anything else right now. But I will and I have been.  

Because our life goes on and I need God more than ever. I need Him to get me through the days. I need Him to throw His comforting arms around my nephews and nieces and other family members.

I also need Him to heal my friends. I just found out that my old friend Beth has been fighting cancer. Jeez, what a week. But her call to me in my time of need despite her own tragedy reminded me of how good my life is. I’m not in top physical health but I don’t have cancer. I have a home and a supportive loving family and friends. And I know that someday I’ll see Greg again. I’m just seriously bummed that it may not be for a very long time.  

God I really miss him. This sucks. I’m confused and I think that’s normal. I don’t know how long it will be before I stop crying for him but I’ll keep praying. Even though I’m not sure why it happened or what God has in store. I just have to hope. Even when it seems like there is none. Keep your hope. Keep your faith. Keep asking God for help. It’s what Greg would want for all of us and it’s what he did every day of his short life.

In Loving Memory of Gregory M. Crowe
October 31, 1965 – March 12, 2012

If you are so inclined to help with Greg’s four young children, we are taking donations to help pay for immediate needs such as COBRA insurance, rent, and counseling. We have also set up a fund for the kids’ college. Please contact me or reply to this post if you wish to donate. And we very much need your prayers. God has given us many kind and wonderful friends who have been very supportive and we thank Him and them for everything.

An Excerpt from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson:

By circling, I simply mean that you keep asking until God answers. I’m afraid we give up too easily, too quickly. One thing that has helped me stay consistent and persistent in prayer is a prayer journal. It’s the way I document my requests and His answers. It also insures that I give God the glory when He delivers.

Now let me offer one warning. God is not a genie in a bottle and our wish is not His command. His command better be our wish. Prayer isn’t about getting what we want from God. The ultimate objective of prayer is to discern and do the will of God. But if you pray in the will of God, for the glory of God, all bets are off. And what was true 2,000 years ago is still true: God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.