Ryan Clark Hastings
April 20, 1984 - November 2, 2000
Our Grief Journey

We are all now part of this journey of grief. As a family we suffer immensely every day our loss of Ryan, but I have felt led to have a place on the website that anyone who wanted could come to find reflections on the "Grief Journey". I hope many of you will add comments, questions, or suggestions to others about how you are handling or not handling your own grief (not just about Ryan but perhaps others you know or loved that you have loss over).

One thing I quickly observed about this tragedy of losing a son Ė human nature pushes most of us to try to comfort those around us in pain. I have felt so blessed by many of you "just being there" even if words donít seem to come. (There is obviously a feeling of "incompetence" about what we should say or do and Iíll have more to say about what I personally need in some following words.)

We would like this column on grief to remain "dynamic" .. meaning that I would like to put some structure to it, but let it go where it will based on input from others and just observations of my own and my family.

Early Reflections

I have quickly sensed that I can only move through each moment based on what I have many times referred to as the "3 Fís" Ė Faith, Family, and Friends. And much like a 3-legged stool, if any one of the legs is missing I donít seem to be supported very well.

Certainly the rawness is still very present Ė the accident happened on November 2nd and as I write this first column we are almost coming up on 7 weeks. As some of you know there are already certain things that you will probably hear from me Ė first about the word "closure" and then about the "3 Fís" of support.

What about Closure?
For me whoever came up this word was certainly never part of a deep pain process. Do you think as a parent that I would ever want to consider Ryanís death closed? I know that many of you would say that it is part of the healing process (perhaps that is what we should say instead) Ė I hope you can get some healing through all of this Ė we have a deep wound and now it is fresh, it needs lots of redressing and bandaging .. as time passes I anticipate a permanent scar Ė the memory of Ryan will never go away for me and for my family so there will never be closure.

I would rather use the word "OPENING" Ö Ryan and Erinís (the girl riding with Ryan) death should open us all up to a number of lifeís offerings:

Letís "open" our gift Ė we should live each day to the fullest as every moment is precious and once you live it you can never retrieve it

Letís be "open" to honoring Ryan and the wonderful life that he lived Ė with passion, with goals, with confidence, with humor, and with a hidden heart (he was compassionate without being showy about it).

Letís "open" ourselves to each other Ė realizing that life with each other is special, limited, and sacred. Letís not be afraid to tell each other that "I love you" Ö not just because we may lose the one we love in the next moment, but as much because the person you are giving the blessing to needs to hear the words and feel your genuine affection to feel fulfilled.

How have the "Fís" helped me so far?

I have been a Christian most of my life, I grew up a preacherís kid, and have certainly had varying degrees of commitment as an adult but have always had an underlying confidence in Godís gift of his son to the world and his continuing presence in my life.

Certainly I have been shaken to the core and feel like Job on most days. Is this a test? Will I make it to the finals? Why Ryan? Why not me? Why do bad things happen to children in the prime of life?

I have no answers, but like Job, I remain faithful to God because of my confidence that faith will sustain, comfort, and give me courage to travel this incredible journey of pain and confusion.

What a blessing to have an incredible amount of family that supports me continually Ė My mother and father, four siblings and their families, my incredibly strong wife, my special daughter, and 3 great step-daughters.

We all have to do this journey in our own way, but I know I can count on any or all of my family to support me one more step each day. I cherish this blessing and pray every day that I not ever take this for granted.

In a crisis like this I have found that my ability to "read" people seems to be enhanced greatly. I know even more quickly if you are genuine in your concern or just handing out a platitude. I have been so blessed by the expressions of cards, phone calls, cooked meals, etc and although you may not think you are doing much, I have benefited greatly by each and every remembrance Ė as you honor me you honor my son and that means so much to me now.


Larry Hastings, Dec 20, 2000

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