Four Years – Not Like Three

Martin Sanders
Dr. Martin Sanders

I was in Northern Ireland with my close friend and ministry colleague Martin Sanders on the fourth anniversary of Brenda’s death.

Martin’s wife Dianna died five years ago also in the month of August and we have been walking with each other through the grief the journey of grief and it has been so good to share life together.

The fourth anniversary of Brenda’s passing did not feel like the third. Being in Ireland this year was the first time away from my family on the anniversary. The family are doing well. This summer we had been together talking at Barnabas about how we were doing so I am comfortable with that – I just miss them when I’m away.

On the morning of the twelfth, Martin and I were invited for “a cuppa” by Dr. Arthur Peebles. (That is Northern Irish for coming by for a “wee cup of tea.” ) There we were, three doctors together in a quiet well lit Irish sitting room sharing together about the loss of our soul mates. Arthur lost his Ann four years ago and he and I have spoken of this on previous visits. Martin’s Dianna died five years ago August 22nd, and of course I also experienced the second loss of my fiancé Ruth.

We are all reasonably intelligent men and understand that the experiencing of grief is normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. As we shared we discovered it hasn’t been easy for any of us. Often the most common shared experience was the longing for the companionship we once shared with our wives.

Science has demonstrated another dimension of why we crave companionship so strongly. When your loved one is alive, the comfort of their very presence sets off neural reward activity in your brain. After they pass away, adapting to the loss is compounded by the disappearance of this stimulus/reward activity. Over time, we learn to cope with the death and don’t expect this same reward. But if you struggle with complicated grief, your brain continues to crave it. defines craving as something you long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for.

We have come to take the perspective that God made us to crave so we’d always desire more of Him.

12 thoughts on “Four Years – Not Like Three

  1. Thank you for your observations. Peace to you as you walk through these days.

  2. Carson I have always loved how you love Brenda. I remember you telling me years ago how much you enjoyed/ cherished the end of the day when you would each share your day. I think you two taught me how important it was to have a partner to confide in, walk with, grow with.
    I know this was a long time ago, but some things stick. ♥️

    1. Ah thanks Chris. I’m so thankful i had a partner that would share my days. Grateful for the years we had. A long time ago I still remember killer bunnies 🐰

  3. Carson, I always know that when I see a post from you, a fresh, new, God-glorifying perspective is on the way! Thank you for pointing my heart to Him today as it longs for the companionship only He can provide. Grateful you have friends to share the journey with… Know how very loved you are! Lori McCary

  4. Thank you for sharing this Carson. This is a reminder to me that for those who grieve the loss of family for reasons other than death — that we need to seek Truth Bearers of Like “Mind” to bring comfort and soothing. This validation of grief is important. Seeking NEW and ReNEWal is one thing I have learned to “go” after. Respectfully, Louise

  5. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Companionship! So many thoughts and feelings expressed in that one word. It is so often something we take for granted until it is ripped out of your life. And then you have only the sweet memories.

  6. Carson thank you so much for sharing your grief journey, it has validated the journey I’m on after losing my daughter

  7. Hi Carson

    You’ve been so much on my mind this Christmas Season. I can only pray that God will comfort you in that deep place of loss. No matter how much your kids or others love you, there is a special spot for “your person” who is the other part of you. I’m glad you have friends who get what your going through but I’m still believing for you that someday that “spot“ will be filled again. Hugs and love to you.


Comments are closed.