I just finished an 11 part blog series, sharing the music and cancer journey of my brother, Doug Friesen. He died 20 years ago at age 34 from the affects of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma..
Doug with his family, Spring of 1998
I have been listening to Doug’s music and reflecting on his life for a good portion of the last year, and I have been surprised that, even though it’s been 20 years, the grief that has welled up from time to time was quite strong. Hearing Doug’s voice singing praises to God for the first time in years was powerful. And then hearing the CD after the music had been re-recorded and remixed digitally – it was like Doug was in the room, singing. I couldn’t stop the tears.
The original cassette tape Doug recorded and produced.
The cd re-recorded and remixed in 2018.
All the memories that came back while listening to the songs were sweet to recount. The loss stung once again, and at times, I wondered how we got through the past 20 years without him.
Doug on the left, his wife Monica, sister Jenny, and brother-in-law Robert early July, 1998.
I’ve learned a lot about grief over the years as we suffered through the illness and loss of Doug, and several other family members.
- there is no right or wrong way to grieve;
- everyone grieves differently;
- there are times you feel very alone in your grief;
- there are stages of grief (shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) but just because you go through one or two stages doesn’t mean you won’t go back through them again from time to time;
- time does heal the pain but the loss leaves a scar;
- no one can replace the person who is gone;
- normal is not recovered, but a new normal can be found;
- grief can come in waves you can’t stop, so don’t fight it – just go with the tears;
- grief can come softly with a memory you can smile at;
- it is important to give yourself time to grieve;
- holidays and significant family celebrations often are times the loss is felt strongly once again;
- it is healthy to talk about the person who is no longer there; to do things to remember that person by;
- it is sometimes necessary and always good to seek out a counselor, pastor or caring trusted friend to talk to about your grief;
- I’m sure you can add your own ideas here.
Today I ran across this quote by Elisabeth Elliott,
Grief never ends, but it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness, not a lack of faith…
It is the price of LOVE.
We grieve much become we love much. During Doug’s illness and passing, and after his death, I experienced the comfort of God as I went to scriptures, particularly the Psalms, with my grief.
After Doug’s passing, and some time had gone by, I found myself drawn to reaching out to others when they experienced the death of a family member. I learned what they needed by going through it myself. My presence, a listening ear, a baked item offered; all expressing to them God’s love, as it had for me and my family while we were grieving.
After listening to Doug’s musc for some time this past year, I was able to sing along, kind of like how we used to sing together. I was able to chuckle at memories and enjoy thinking about him. Our family celebrated Doug’s life this summer by gathering to view a slide show of pictures from his life, share our memories of Doug, and plant a tree in his memory in a local park near where my parents live.
It has not been easy to go on without Doug. In fact, it has been very hard. I cling to God’s promises and to His comfort…
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)