Good Grief




The term good grief is one of the more perplexing oxymoronic phrases. It is one I had used often and without much thought until my Brother was gunned down in cold blood by a masked gunman this past September. The words good and grief took on new meaning. They were meant to be distinct and separate. They had no place together because there is nothing good about grief. Or is there?

The days following his death, my mind and spirit were filled with anguish, sorrow and disbelief. It pained me to see his picture, to see his resemblance in my mother’s face, his daughter’s face and my own reflection in the mirror. I was stricken with grief and there was nothing good about it.

The image of him lying in his casket is now a permanent fixture within my recall. A body once filled with life’s energy now inanimate, solemn and dead. The image is there like a gnawing foreign body that I cannot dwell on because when I do, I become irreparably undone.

Initially, I was overwhelmed by the seeming expectation that someday I move on, take a shower, eat, drive, smile,  go back to work, laugh or do anything other than ponder the great mystery of how someone I loved more than life itself was there one minute and gone the next. And to know that it was at the hands of a cold blooded murderer? How could this be?

Yet, my own life beckoned me, my children and fiancé needed me and my mother deserved a daughter who could stand tall while she had to bury her only son. There were numerous times I collapsed. Somehow, someway, I had to find the good in the grief.

I knew I had to be mentally and spiritually proactive as the holidays approached as these times have the potential to be the most difficult.  When I need to cry, I cry, when I need my mind my emptied I sit in silence and when things need to be done, I do them…most days.  When I am angry at a loved one or anyone, the grief is there to remind me to forgive and do it quickly. Forgiveness is Good.

What makes it tough is that Christmas was his favorite holiday. He loved Christmas and I loved him. More than I was anxious to see what was under the tree for me, I looked more forward to what would be there for him.  Christmas morning would bring a smile across his face that is and forever will be indelibly on my brain.  It is that image that I hold fast to even though doing so breaks my heart in a million pieces. Simply because I don’t want to remember him, I want to see him. Wanting to see him, but knowing he is with God is Good.

A few days ago, my family received news that my Brother’s murderer was caught, remanded without bail and will stand for trial. This was God’s Gift to us. The first steps towards justice delivered to us right before we face our first Christmas without him.  This man’s crime will not go unanswered. God’s Will will be done. Justice by way of God’s Will is Good.

They tell me that one of the last things my Brother ever uttered as the paramedics carried his body away was “I’m good” and resounded with another reassuring, “I’m good”. By my earthly standard, he was not good. He was dying, leaving here to float forever amongst the stars and in his wake leaving behind a mountain of grief  for hundreds if not thousands of people who loved him.

I’d like to think that he said those words because God gave him comfort in those last moments. When my heart gets too heavy,  I share in that comfort. God’s Comfort is good.

And so there it is. It is all Good and at the same time it is all Grief.

Good Grief…#thatsliberation


In loving memory of Phillip Harrison, Jr.