A Slicing Grief & Riveting Hope


standing in the warm trauma bay as a man was off loaded from the flight crew’s stretcher over onto ours, my eyes became hazy and a dull deep throb filled the space between my temples.

The tragic irony of the current situation, the dichotomy of that one I was witnessing and one that I had just learned had takenplace a few days before sliced through some of the deeper parts of my brain and soul.

A dear friend from childhood was pronounced dead in those very trauma bays just a few days before after a car accident.  He was twenty-six years old, just typing out that number seems so cruel.

Just behind the trauma attending, I stood at the foot of the bed watching from the same place I have watched many resuscitations unfold before.  This man was eighty-something years old.

The mechanism of injury; self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head.

Just minutes after he entered the bay, it was confirmed that there was no cardiac activity and the time of death was called.

The doctors, nurses and paramedics pulled off the masks with the gloves snapping off right after and began filing out of the bay.

Brushing the curtains aside I stepped out, my eyes growing hazier.  Desperately needing a few minutes out of the department, I meandered down the long halls crowded with patients, visitors, and doctors going from place to place, up a flight of stairs and into the gift shop where I stopped at a rack of t-shirts.  There were light blue, maroon, and sea foam green shirts and, being that green has always been my favorite color, it was the green ones caught my eye.  They were comfort colors t-shirts and I stared at the muted green ones for quite some time.  The color was tranquil and soft.  I picked one up in my size and bought it without even thinking much about it.  It was thirty dollars.  Thirty freaking dollars.  For a t-shirt.

But it was as I was standing in that gift shop, running my fingers down the sleeves of the t-shirts, I felt deeply the grief of Leland’s death, the tragic irony of his death and the resuscitation I had just witnessed, the eighty-year-old man and Leland, who had lived merely a fraction of those years, and also a deep, unwavering hope.

They sliced right through me in thy way only grief and hope are capable of doing. 

When tragedy rips through our lives and our worlds as we know them, when heartbreak that makes your ribs ache and that deep dull pain thuds through your chest wall, I always scramble to put the thoughts in my head in some sort of order and search for eloquent words that make sense in a time where nothing else does.

Yet somehow its always the opposite.  Eloquent words evade, thoughts the make sense, that hold some sort of order and structure are far from what my mind is filled with.

But what courses though my soul more deeply every time I encounter grief is an unshakable hope. 

A hope that is riveting and unmistakable.

The spaces that grief leaves, the canyon wide places in our souls that are ripped apart by pain and sliced open with heartbreak, those are the very places that hope rises from.

Those are the deepest places by which we feel, know and believe that hope is real and hope is alive.

With each encounter we have with grief we can be hardened by it, crushed by it, destroyed by it or by it, we can come to know hope more deeply, surely and fully.

It is a hope that is glimmering all around us, in the biggest and tiniest of way, in a world that is beautiful and broken and tragic 

It is a hope that is sure and unshakable.

It is a hope that will carry, sustain and anchor our souls.   

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.  Hebrews 6:19

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:12