Friday, December 9, 2011

Coping With Loss and the Holidays - Part II

Today, I'm happy to introduce my second guest blogger, my dear friend Betty McCarty, who will share about her son Brian. Welcome Betty!

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

I’m a mother of three—my firstborn, Brian, and two daughters, Shanna & Sarah.

June 10, 2007, was a beautiful Lord’s Day. We had been home about two hours from church services, when one or both of the girls said something about state troopers pulling up on the road next to our house. I went outside to see why they were there. There were three Florida Highway Patrol cars and one unmarked car. I knew something wasn’t right.

One of the officers called out as he walked toward our home, “Are you Brian Gillen’s mother?”

I said, “Yes. Is he ok?”

The officer shook his head no. I then learned that my 24-year-old son had been killed in a motorcycle/car accident. He was on the motorcycle. A car had pulled out in front of him. They tried to make it sound as if it were his fault because he was going too fast. Some of our family and friends were angry at the girl who’d pulled out in front of him. I have learned you don’t have to “blame” anyone. Sometimes things just happen.

Soon afterwards, I made a call to a member of the church I attended. I also called friends from the two previous churches where I’d been a member before. I asked them all to pray for us. In the midst of the grief and turmoil, I knew we would need God’s help to get through this. I will never understand people turning their back on God when they need him the most. God answered the prayers! I can’t tell you that getting through the grief process has been easy, but I can tell you that God has helped make it more bearable.

Brian was a brother my two daughters looked up to, even more after their father died 4½ years earlier of a massive heart attack. Brian was a father, as well, to my beautiful little granddaughter Elizabeth. She is a gift from God. She is Brian with us. We all miss Brian.

One day I thought – what is wrong with me? I haven’t cried that much. I am doing too well. Please understand it is not because I have not grieved my son’s death. I have cried and missed him so much. It’s because my God carried us all through!

Sometimes, we tend to miss those we’ve lost more around the holidays. Their loss makes us sad.  My suggestion is this – pray. Prayer is what got me through the endless hours of grief. Also, find someone whom you can comfort. Helping someone else in need tends to get our minds off our own problems. Seeing Elizabeth at Christmas eases my holiday grief, as well, and my girls help me stay strong.

Remember, tell those you love that you love them every single chance you get. I’m thankful that just two days prior to Brian’s death, I told him I loved him. It brings me much comfort.

Have you ever wondered how Mary must have felt when she saw Jesus upon the cross? As a mother who has loved a son and lost him, I can assure you the pain was enormous but so was God’s grace and mercy in comforting her.

 ~Betty McCarty


  1. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. This has to be the hardest thing that has ever happened to you. I couldn't even imagine the loss of a child. I have a 24 year old daughter that has a 3 year old. That experience has to be life changing. I have 2 friends that have lost their spouses within the last 3 years...both at Christmas time. They deal with their grief directly. The one who has been able to move forward has God strongly in her life. The other who is still struggling does not have God in her life. It's amazing to me what the presence of God can do and I'm happy that he was able to carry you and your family through such an unbearable thing. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. How do you describe something that is sad as being a good story? You can, when the evidence of God's love is present! Thanks for the story. - John