Today marks the fifth anniversary of my brother, Matt’s, death. Matt was only 34-years old, was my best friend and my only sibling. I was the one who found him. I have learned many things in the past five years from this experience. One thing in particular is that I learned from Steven Smith at Against the Stream Nashville is to try living in GRATEFUL SORROW.
I spent years running from the pain left in the wake of a tragedy that surpassed even my car accident, which killed a friend of mine and led to the amputation of one of my legs. As much as the physical pain that I felt while enduring 14 surgeries and my leg amputation, it paled in comparison to the infinite and inexpressible darkness that fell over me following Matt’s death. I spent the first several years temporarily masking the pain the alcohol and pills. It wasn’t until I physically and emotionally could not go any further without some other kind of relief other than substances. I spent the next couple of years in intense therapy and recovery for post traumatic stress disorder (PDST), anxiety, depression, insomnia and alcohol and substance abuse.
Through my working on myself, which is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, I have begun to start accepting the pain instead of running from it. Marc Pittman says it perfectly in his book, Raising Cole, that he wrote following the tragic death of his son (Cole) who died in a car accident while he was a stand-out football player for the University of Texas Longhorns. He says, “Coping with death, to me, is all about remembering love. I don’t worry about the pain. I’ll worry if I ever stop feeling the pain.” It’s like he’s describing that he is able to be grateful in the sorrow.
So instead of running from the pain, the sense of loss and the feelings of loneliness and abandonment, this year on the fifth anniversary of Matt Mabry’s death, I am choosing to be grateful for, and in, the sorrow that is still with me. Like Pittman says, I should be worried if I don’t feel the pain.
Thank you, God, for allowing me to feel.
And to Matt, I miss you as much as ever, Brother!