Friday, September 01, 2023

Grief and Gratitude

I just watched a great movie, This is Where I Leave You, about a family coming together when their father dies. I deal with grief every day in my work. Lately I have been thinking about contrasts in the grief and healing process.

Despair and hope. 
Crying and laughing.
Looking back and looking ahead
Lament and joy.
Mourning and dancing.

At the beginning of grief, we live in the first part of those contrasts. As we journey through our grief, we begin to experience the second parts. It's not a smooth transition, and our thoughts and emotions can go all over the place. 

I might feel despair for a while, then have glimmers of hope, then something happens and the despair is back. 

Lately I am trying to be intentional in seeking hope, joy, peace and laughter. As I pursue those, even thought I occasionally cry and lament, I sense progress in my healing journey. 

Six months ago I lost one of my closest friends. Pete and I met 12 years ago when I applied for a job at Logos Bible Software. After a couple trips to Washington for interviews, Pete hired me to be on his ministry development team. He became my boss and my friend. We only worked together a short time, but his influence on me was great, and our friendship continued over the years and across the miles.

Three years ago Pete was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer. Pete was already the kind of guy who went 90 miles an hour, all day long. When he learned his time was limited he ramped up even more; doing all he could to help others with the days he had left.

I was grateful to visit him several times during his last few years. In 2021 Pete's wife Shara and I conspired for me to surprise Pete with a visit to their home in Colorado Springs. I got a jeep pick-up as a rental car and Pete and I went four-wheeling up Mount Hermon. We drove and walked and talked and had a blast. At the end of the day we went home and had dinner with Shara; then the three of us watched Ted Lasso. It was the perfect show as we laughed and had our hearts touched by that amazing show about beautiful relationships. 

I saw Pete again this past February, just a few days before he died. His health was declining, but we still had good time together, remembering special times and people in our lives.

Which brings me back to the idea of contrasts in the grieving and healing process. I miss Pete like crazy. I miss having him available when I needed wisdom. Pete was one of the wisest and most Godly men I've known. I knew that I could call him anytime, with any problem, and count on him to listen and encourage and share good insights.

I miss laughing with him, having light-hearted conversations about politics, and deeper conversations about theology. 

But I'm not always sad when I think of Pete. I'm also grateful, that I got to be close friends with this amazing man. Grateful that he chose me to be on his team, and that he invested in me and taught me and coached me, both professionally and personally. Grateful that our families spent special times together--eating and playing games and laughing for hours. Grateful that even over thousands of miles we stayed connected. 

Profound grief happens because someone had a profound impact on our lives. And that is something to celebrate. I love you and miss you, Pete. Thank you.