So delighted to work with the fabulous people at Calgary's City Light News - thanks Doris! Check out my just-published article on page 5 in their June 2015 edition. I hope it will be of help to many other people who walk the journey of grief. Their on-line version is at www.calgarychristian.com/articles/2015/15-6.pdf Here is the column:
A mother’s story of loss
Tears in heaven
By Helga Bender
What is life, death and heaven all about? When your
son dies at four years old, like Eric Clapton’s, or 25 years
old like my son, you ask deep questions. Like a bulldog, a
bereaved person will often wrestle with these questions
and won’t let go. Clapton asked some of those in his
90s hit song, Tears in Heaven, including if his son would
know him there.
Often the griever’s ‘mental computer’ is preoccupied
by scanning every day that their loved one lived – to find
answers. Searching and testing ideas, revising and adjusting,
they are honing in to find the meaning of life and
death. And it changes them. Often they become people
with a keen sense of justice, deep empathy, cherishing
and protecting life. They are resilient champions who
have been battered by the worst storm; still loving and
They usually are eager to hear every new anecdote of
their loved one which might provide more of the puzzle
of their lives. I, too, searched for understanding when
my son, Ben Farrant, died.
Ben was killed on July 7, 2006, by a dangerous driver
who came flying off a highway ramp and onto the city
streets of Langley, B.C., ignoring eight traffic laws in less
than one minute. The driver later testified that he did see
the cyclist in his lane but actually ignored him. He hit
Ben with such a force that he was thrown through the
windshield, smashing his helmet and fracturing his skull
before being launched off the roof into a 30 meter arc
and then crashing to the ground, further breaking his
bones. He died almost instantly, in a pool of his own
blood, bigger than his 6’2” frame.
Ben was a quiet and gentle man, but a man of action.
He had packed 75 years of life into his 25 years. Here is
a little snapshot: Ben was a volunteer webmaster at university,
played rugby and won the student bake off with
his famous cheesecake. In high school, he had started
a web design business when he wasn’t racing mountain
bikes. On spring break he was off renovating a church
in the slums. He graduated with a degree in Computer
Science and was an IT manager and computer programmer,
but his passion became Africa.
After visiting there, Ben was moved by the terrible
aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda and their desperate
need for educated leaders. When his dear friends, Richard
Taylor and Jeff Komant started Wellspring school there,
to rebuild this devastated nation, Ben jumped at the idea.
He was their IT specialist board member both in Canada
and then living in Rwanda, where he also poured concrete
and played soccer with the children too. I am so grateful
to Richard for this significant story of what happened
in Rwanda after Ben died. The Vancouver Sun included it
in their article about Ben. It became a wonderful help
to my puzzle picture.
Here is part of the Vancouver Sun article:
“…When Ben died, the Wellspring Foundation
members in Kigali got the news by phone. One
of those was Richard Taylor, who, as Wellspring’s
executive director, was still working on the school.
The members got together because they wanted
to honour Ben. They decided to name the school’s
just-finished playground after him because the
playground was meant as a place of joy.
“We were going to call it the Ben Farrant Memorial
Playground,” Taylor said, “but that wasn’t
Ben, it sounded so formal. So we called it ‘Ben’s
Boathouse’ (The playground is built to resemble a
boat). Most of the kids around here have few places
where they can just go and be kids and play; lots
of them have never been on a swing.”
When they opened the playground, they invited
the local kids to come and play on it, and word
spread and dozens and dozens of kids arrived.
“So there were all these kids having a good
time,” said Taylor, “and I started thinking about
Ben, and (in my grief) I just started chanting Ben’s
name – ‘Ben! Ben! Ben!’ And all the kids started
chanting his name, too, not even knowing what
it meant. ‘Ben! Ben! Ben!’ And that’s when I just
about lost it.”
“You know,” Taylor admitted, “a lot of people
said it was such a shame that Ben died at 25, and
that he died too young to have a family and have
children who might carry on his name. But he has so
many people to carry on his name, including some
Rwandan children who didn’t even know him.”
This story added to the picture of how Ben touched
others with joyful caring and how they cared for him
too. This was a big part of his legacy.
Another part of that legacy is, that as his mother,
having walked the chaotic journey of grief, I have deep
care and compassion for grieving people. With my training,
experience and prayer, it is gratifying for me to help
others make sense of it all, avoid the pitfalls and renew
their hope and future. I can help you too.
Helga Bender, MThS is a Grief Coach also offering faith-based coaching and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.helgabender.com or 403-775-9335
If you are struggling with loss or grief, get the support you need. For more helpful blog articles scroll down. Included are Birthday Parties in Heaven, He is not here, Just tell Me What Happened and The Worst Nightmare plus helpful Renewing Resilience Tips.
For additional grief and loss resources, including a no-obligation Intake Grief Coaching session with Helga Bender MThS, click here.
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