On Monday, November 15, 2010, one of my company’s sub-contractors died unexpectedly. His name was Paul Wheeler. He ran a flooring installation business here in Central Ohio. Paul was a hard working, good man and I’m glad to have known him.
Thursday, his family had an open house dedicated to celebrating his life. I decided to attend with my boss as a representative of our company. The scene was eerily familiar. A man passed away unexpectedly and way too young, leaving a grieving family and lots of wonderful memories.
We chit chatted for half an hour or so before leaving for other commitments that evening. Before leaving, I gave Nancy, Paul’s widow, a hug and whispered in her ear, “I understand. My father passed away a couple of years ago unexpectedly. I know what you are going through and I’m so sorry. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.” Nancy, who had maintained amazing composure the entire time (apart from absent-mindedly rocking back and forth in a daze periodically), suddenly started sobbing and hugged me tightly. I just hugged back for a minute, completely understanding the depth of her pain, and pouring my heart out silently to God for her pain.
Sometimes, the thing that helps the most is knowing we are not alone in our pain. To know that someone else has been through it, or still feels it, gives us permission to grieve. I know the road ahead of Nancy and her family. It is not an easy one. And being there brought my own pain and loss back up from the depths of my own heart. It is hard and life changing to lose someone we love so deeply. But, I am truly glad that God has brought me to the place where I can bring comfort to someone else because of the pain I went through. It’s painful. It’s bitter sweet. But, I think this is also part of my own healing. And I’m thankful.