My Journey To “Grateful Sorrow”

Matt Mabry
Matt Mabry

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!

Me & My Brother Matt
Me & My Brother Matt
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8 thoughts on “My Journey To “Grateful Sorrow”

  1. Thank you for sharing your perception, Clint! Congratulations on your recovery. Hope we can have another Hultgren Hoot’Nanny again some day! Tina

  2. You have been through soooo much my dear son. It makes me sooo sad to read this BUT I know how far you have come and the progress you have made which make me VERY happy. Please continue you journey looking forward, bettering yourself, taking care of your family, and ALWAYS looking to God as your guide though EVERYTHING!!!! You are SOOOOO LOVED by SOOOO MANY!!!

  3. I am so proud of how far you have come on your recovery and all you are doing with your life! I hope God uses your blog/testimony to touch many other hurting souls to give them their own sense of peace and hope.

  4. John. No words can describe what you have experienced. The words you share with the hope you have helps to build character and give hope to those whose lives you touch. It is all about what we do with what we have. Blessings. Michael

  5. Dear Clint,

    I too lost my only brother a year and a half ago. It was the most pain I have experienced even though I have experienced a father, other family members, and other friend’s death that have passed. After much reflection, I think I perceived my brother’s death more painful because of these reasons:

    *We had so many childhood shared memories and he was my one and only sibling. (loss)
    *He died too early in his life and it was a hard ugly illness for to watch happen to him. (ugly reality; disbelief that it could happen this way.)
    *I had always thought we would share many more fun family experiences and travel together in our future. (regret; loss, unfulfillment)
    *It seemed we were both cheated out of experiencing a lot of future happiness and good together as a family.(anger; dissapointment)
    *I was the only ‘child’ left from our family unit of 4; I will be taking care of my mother by myself.. (loneliness; worry; anxiety;)
    *I experienced ‘survivors guilt’. (guilt for living and being the one to live.)

    So you can see we have shared many of the same feelings,…. although I do recognize you have had the additional adjustments to your leg amputation, the pain of that healing, and much change in your young life.

    All in all, if we live long enough we end-up with lots of battle wounds and scars. Some real that can be seen (your leg) and other’s that are inside our hearts. The good thing is that those scars are left so we can see & feel them from time to time, and it does make us remember the pain of loss …..but it also reminds us how we DO HEAL. We remember the pain, but we do go on and and heal and it isn’t quite as painful because we start remembering more GOOD more than the bad. We start seeing the Blessings in everything …..even in the pain….and see that it works for the good in the long-run. Those scars make US BETTER PEOPLE and help us to have empathy towards others who are hurting ! (You have eluded to this in your recent post. This is great!)

    Clint, Know that you are loved my many in your struggles and walk of Life and that you are not alone in your plight. Our prayers are lifted for you and for your whole family often. – May God continue to bless you.

    – Hugs to you, Jenice

    PS- **Here is a prayer that I say often about my brother, but I have substituted Matt’s name in the prayer for you.

    “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Matt’s life for 34 years before our Maker called you to be part of His life and family in heaven. I am so thankful on this day that I could call you my brother and my friend for the time we had together, even though it was way too short. I am thankful for all the good memories of experiences and for a wonderful childhood together. I am thankful for ……….(list your thanksgivings here) “

    1. Thank you for sharing, Jenice. I always appreciate your insight. I remember talking with you when I was in college and broke up with a girlfriend. You are good at relating your life experiences to others. Also, thank you for the simple, yet profound prayer. I am so grateful you and your family have been such a big part of our family for close to 40 years! Blessings to you and the growing Benedict clan this Christmas! John Clint

      1. Thank you Clint for the recognition.

        I came across this quote the other day and thought you might like to read it, too.

        “One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it is guilt, anger, love, loss, or betrayal.
        Change is never easy…… We fight to hold on and we fight to let go!”
        – Lessons Learned In Life

  6. I love you and I understand, having been through a great loss of my own, my husband of almost 40 years. I trust in God, even though I don’t understand, and cannot hope to do so. But we will see them again. With much love, Your kindergarten teacher, Tara Johnson

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