My brother was murdered and his murder held a gift. I understand if that statement disturbs you.
To fathom blessings from an act characterized as profane took time and healing, but first I had to work through grief, revenge and victimhood.
My brother was funny, creative and ambitious. He also was my best friend. Grief filled the void his absence created. I never blamed God or hated the world because he was taken so brutally, yet the sorrow I kindled as a way to stay connected to him was a poor substitute for the joy he gave me when he was alive.
When I remembered my brother with gratitude rather than loss, I could feel the shift of emotions in my body. I discovered I held the power of choice in my healing.
In theory I knew there was no better tribute to his life than living with joy in my own, however participating in the criminal justice system seemed designed to test that concept.
The men involved in the death of my brother were tried in criminal court. During their prosecutions, I recognized what I wanted was revenge rather than justice. It seemed the energy and emphasis in assigning guilt included implying those young men had no value or relevance to society and I was entitled to believe they deserved my hate and retribution, but that belief only compounded my heartache.
Forgiving his killers freed me from the blinders of hate so I could view them and the world with compassion.
As a consequence of his murder, my brother became a victim and victims bear gravitas in our culture.
My brother’s best attributes and accomplishments were superseded by the way in which he died.
Through the retelling of his murder, I too became a victim. I realized I used the way he died to claim moral high ground for my righteous pain when, in truth, I was no different than anyone who missed their loved one.
Empathy dissolved separation and re-connected me with the flow of life.
At his death, my brother had no investment in remaining stuck in the past of his earthly incarnation. Just as he cut his mortal ties, my brother would want me to let go of the disempowering emotions I cultivated surrounding his death. Relinquishing them was deep, soul-level work, work that shaped who I am today.
There is no textbook for mastering suffering. It is an experience that is part of the sacred design built into the mystery of each life. Robert Frost wrote, “The best way out is always through.”
Faith did not tell me how to heal, but held space for my healing as I found my best way out of suffering.
That is the gift of my brother’s murder, and I know he sees it that way too.
Terri Henges, one of The Star’s Faith Walk columnists, can be reached at email@example.com.