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"Learning to Embrace the Process of Grief"

As a family, we've managed to get through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. This wasn't an easy time for us which was expected. But none of us could have anticipated how intense the feelings would be, nor could we have prepared for it. It was something we simply had to face and that we did, through tears, lonely evenings, and many hugs.

Christmas day was particularly difficult for us. As we wished one another our Christmas greeting, it wasn't easy to say or hear the words, "Merry Christmas" since there wasn't anything merry about it. The truth was that we were quite sad (better put - depressed) and we knew that all our future Christmas' would always be different.

The year 2003 was nothing like I dreamed it would be. To think that my father would pass away last July is still a staggering thought to wrap my mind around. For example, the other day I was walking my dog, Kole. As we were heading home from our walk, I momentarily stopped because, at that particular point in time, I actually thought this was just a dream and that my father would be home shortly from work. I briefly felt a sense of elation, but then, quickly gathered my thoughts and came back to reality. It was such a weird thing to experience.

Thankfully there are always new beginnings in life. It's true that nothing will ever be as it once was, but I am staunchly committed to following the call God has placed upon my life. It is a shaky time and there are still a lot of things that are unclear. So I don't want to somehow communicate that this process of bereavement is much better. Perhaps, I would choose another word and that is "different."

We're in a different stage now than we were seven months ago. I would like to say that we are moving forward, somewhat (which I feel we are). But I'm not so concerned with reaching any particular goal or finish line than I am with embracing the process. As painful and lonely as these days are, I want growth to be a bi-product of my father's death.

First, I want to grow and become more like the man God calls each young man to be and that I would continue to stay on the narrow path, even though I tend to fall to the left and the right. And second, that I may be more sensitive to others around me.

You might assume that this traumatic experience would make one more sensitive, but, I have to tell you, you can become quite jaded. The gamut of emotions is still broad and deep and I don't have any desire to suppress my feelings. If anything, I choose to accept them, recognize them for what they are, and then see how they might be fruitful for my life and for others.

With the new year already in full swing, I pray that it will be better than it was for my family in 2003. I personally request that you continue to lift my family in prayer. We need them and are so grateful to the faithful who have shown their love to us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

May this year bring you joy as well as blessings,

Justin (a friend)