This is not my typical blog post because it’s deeply personal pouring into words grief, grace, and gratitude. If you read this in its entirety, you’ll not see my regular content but real, raw life…and death.
As parents our single greatest fear is the loss of our child, no matter their age. In the funeral home business, we frequently serve such painful and tragic services for the survivors that grieve an early death. I personally know two funeral industry professionals that lost sons this year. I had conversation with the parents of one and I was deeply moved as they shared with me about their son along with the anguish they are suffering.
This past Wednesday a young friend, team mate and fellow Military Academy mate of my oldest son Hunter died. Graduation and life had separated them along with all the other young men that shared their unique educational experience. However, news of the loss spread nationwide among this group of young men that would bring them together once again.
Such an event causes deep introspection and I was moved by the discussions I had with Hunter about life, death but most importantly his personal foundation as a man. In the midst of tragedy sometimes there is an emergence of realization for things we just cast aside yet now become vividly important. Listening to him my heart was filled with pain for his loss, pride for his expressed thoughts and emotions along with my inability to slow the steady stream of tears…my own emotions. He and I are close, but such deep conversations are rare for any men which makes me grateful for our discussions.
Young men trekked from across the country to pay their respects and gather in support of each other as well as the young man’s parents. But this story gets worse; another young man from this same group died the night before the visitation. My wife had found a photo of Hunter and the first deceased young man along with a third baseball team mate and fellow student. I posted the photo below on my Facebook page sharing my grief and prayerful thoughts for all that were suffering from the first loss…and now we are left with only one.
This post is to publicly share my own grief for the loss of two young men, offer condolences to their loved ones and friends. I also want to share my gratitude that God has blessed me immensely with two sons that I’ll be able to wrap my arms around this week and express my love to them. Only by grace are we all not in such a period of grief that others may experiencing this week from the loss of a child this past year.
I have gratitude that God has provided me a platform to share this along with other experiences globally. As this is being written, I’d deeply aware of true thankfulness for being loved and respected by those that mean the most to me. As I get older, the things that I want most cannot be purchased and I truly seek what I admittedly took for granted earlier in my life.
This week of Thanksgiving is different for me because I know of four chairs around family tables that are empty this year because the tragic loss of four young men. I’m not going to ask the typical “what are you thankful for this week” question. I’m ask that you to reflect on the true life stories I have shared with you and simply challenge you to express love to those most important to you right now. There will be empty chairs at someone’s table this time next year…
Normally I conclude with my cigar ablaze and a cheeky good bye. But today, I close this with tears flowing and earnest thoughts of grief, grace and gratitude. #thefuneralcommander