Grief is an incredibly difficult venture, a monumental climb from the pit of despair. It is an absolutely exhausting venture that drains you physically and weighs heavy on your mind. As I look back on the months following my son’s death, I’ve come to realize that I haven’t moved at all.

Even though others may perceive me to be progressing, my movement is lateral at best. As the span of time increases, it becomes more and more difficult to lift myself up. The days slip by, but the moments never escape me. The more I struggle to hold on, the more twisted and frayed my thoughts become. There is a fear attached to moving forward, as if continuing on diminishes the importance of where we have been. Exceeding that is a heightened awareness that there is no going back. It is in these moments that I feel completely stranded. I wander back and forth on contemplation’s narrow shelf.

On one hand nothing exceeds the sheer agony of death; on the other, absence creates a tremendous depression. As I struggle to unravel the endless strands of thought that death has me spinning, it occurs to me that there is some stability in the place in which I stand.
I’m on an outcropping of complacency between the height of anguish and the depths of sorrow.

With space enough to linger, to contemplate, commiserate and catch my breath, I sort through my feelings. I find myself discarding unnecessary thoughts and reflecting on the little things that always make me smile. Flickers from the past ignite memories that produces a warm inner glow. And, even though the future is unfolding, within this space, it does not obstruct my view.

I think there are instances when it’s best to stay focused on where you are. The enormity of what lies ahead is too overwhelming and looking back will only bring you down. Considering how much we have already suffered, a break is certainly something we are due. Pausing doesn’t restore my motivation to pursue life’s summit, but it keeps me from going over the edge.

To avoid seeming as though I am overlooking the point of our sadness, I’ve decided to extend myself, and offer a line that is purposely crafted to be uplifting. I do this not only to reach out to others, but so I might feel secure within the space I’ve found to rest.

“The lariat of love is so immeasurable that it easily extends from earth into heaven. So unbreakable that it binds them together. If we gather the strength to draw our selves a little closer, we will see those on the other side are pulling for us.”

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John French

My name is John French. I was born in January of 1968. I own and operate a small remodeling company in Highland, MI. My wife Michelle and I married very young and we celebrated our 20th anniversary in May of 2009. We had two amazing children: Veronica, who is 20, and Brandon, who was 17. We worked very hard to build a life that would afford us the luxury of giving them all the things we never had, including a stable home, committed loving parents and every material thing imaginable (within the means of a middle class family, I should add). Over the last few years, it seemed we had finally arrived, and living was easy. Then Brandon passed away in August of 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition. The devastation of that one single moment has crushed our view of reality and cast us down into a state of perpetual winter. I’ve been writing all my life, though not publically. Brandon’s death has so overwhelmed me that I can no longer contain my thoughts. Although my stance is undermined by despair, and frosted by the bitterness that follows the loss of my son, I will labor to plant some seeds of promise in the barren future that I'm so unexpectedly tilling. Perhaps something beneficial will stem from my mourning. If you can gather even a grain of hope from my reaping, it may help to sustain you through your own emotional storm.

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