Can one really live forward after a devastating loss, having purpose and joy again? Can the debilitating effects of grief be defeated, and can we be transformed through our pain? The answer is yes! Absolutely. Spark of Life Co-founder David Mathews shares this incredibly encouraging message of how we can develop this attitude of defeating grief. Attack and defeat grief to live forward with hope.
David Mathews: Hello, I’m David Mathews with Spark of Life where our heartbeat is to walk beside those who are grieving sparkoflife.org. Today, we’re talking about attacking grief, attacking grief. Grief sucks, and we have to get the suckiness out of grief. If we’re to survive. If we’re to live forward with hope, with purpose, with meaning, with love in our hearts for other people that we still have, then somehow we’ve got to attack grief in a smart way, in a humble way, giving respect to grief by not minimizing our pain, by not acting like it’s not there. No, we have to admit we have that pain and we have to give voice to it. But we also have to normalize it. So in our previous video right before this one, we want to normalize grief. And so we went over that about attacking grief. Now, what’s the next thing, the thing we have to do in order to beat grief, we got to beat it before it beats us.
So we got to accept that we have pain. We got to give voice to that pain. And then we’ve got to believe that we can have hope again. If we maximize our pain, as I said in another video, then what will happen is if I think I have the worst loss in the world or one of the worst losses, what will happen is I will not attack grief. I won’t have the energy to do it. In other videos, we’ve talked about how recovery is a decision I make. It is not an emotion I feel. So if I wait for emotion, for me to feel like recovering for me, getting up, washing my face and moving on with life, remembering my loved one. If it’s a death loss, honoring my loved one, giving voice to my pain, and realizing that I will, in one sense, forever be in a part of grief because I miss them.
But that grief is not going to debilitate me anymore. So I got to believe that I can get up and do it. I got to have faith that I can do it. Faith in what? Well, faith in other people as other people have gotten up and done it. I will never get rid of the pain of losing somebody I love dearly. I’ll never get over it. At Spark of Life, we teach people how to get through the pain so that I don’t add more pain to my loss and more loss to my loss story, by being inward and destroying other relationships that I want to keep going on this earth. We said in one other video, that sometimes when we experience grief, deep, deep grief, everything in our lives is centered around what we lost. And at times we lose sight of what we have.
For a while, everything will be centered on who I lost because that’s called deep grief. And sometimes it’s very complicated. So no, I’m not minimizing that. We have to go through that. But we don’t deal with grief as if it’s going to forever dominate me. So somehow I’ve got to get out of this everything in my life revolves around my losses and we forget what I have today. I have people to love today. So in this second part of this attacking grief, because we’re sick and tired of grief debilitating people for the rest of their lives. I have to believe. I have to believe that I have hope to have joy again and permission to have joy again. Permission to grieve and permission to recover. Recovery sometimes is difficult. It’s always difficult. But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
I love golf. I have some golf books back here. You might see some of them. Of course, my favorite golfer in the world was Arnold Palmer. He actually said hi to me one day at a Master’s golf tournament. He acted as if I was important. It was incredible. And he’s already 80-something years old. And he gave me the thumbs up. I felt like he probably knows that my last name only has one T. Mathews with one T. But I also love Ben Hogan. Now, if you don’t know golf and you don’t know Ben Hogan, it’s not about golf. It’s about a spirit that says they won’t give up. It’s about a spirit that says, I believe I can get up and walk again. Ben Hogan, in 1949, was one of the world’s top three golfers without a doubt. He was great. At that time, he had won three major golf championships.
The first one was at age 32, but now he’s in his 30s, in 1949. And he’s on this road in a brand new Cadillac with his wife, Valerie. And he comes on an incline in west Texas, a two-lane highway in 1949. And a Greyhound bus had somehow come into that lane. As he came over the hill, Hogan was face-to-face with the Greyhound bus doing 60, 70 miles an hour, going to be a head-on collision. Had no time. He instinctively dove across the car to save his wife, Valerie, giving up his own life, he was thinking, to save her. Because he loved her. And the crash was so horrific that the steering wheel if he had not jumped in front of Valerie, no seat belts in those days, the steering column and steering wheel were pushed right through the seat where he was sitting.
In other words, he would have been impaled. He would have died almost instantly had he not tried to save his wife. This is a great story. Great story. But the greatness of this story is that he risked his life to save his wife, but the doctors thought he was going to die. The whole nation was in vigil for Ben Hogan. Everybody knew about Ben Hogan. And the doctor said he’ll probably die. And if he doesn’t die, he’ll never walk again. And if he somehow walks with a crutch and with a walker, he will never play golf again. And if he does ever play golf again, he will never be a champion golfer. He could never compete again, his golfing career is over. Everybody said that. One year after the wreck, Ben Hogan taped his legs, rubbed liniment all over his legs, taped his legs meticulously, went out and played his first professional tournament one year after the wreck, and finished tied for first with Sam Snead, I think it was the Los Angeles Open. It’s an incredible story.
He lost in a playoff and then 17, 18 months after his horrific wreck, Ben Hogan in 1951 won the US Open championship. After his wreck, between 1951 and ’57, Ben Hogan in pain, every step of the way, won six major golf championships. In one year in 1953, he entered six tournaments because his legs were so bad and he won five of them. And three of them were the Majors. He won the Masters, the US Open and he had never been to the British Open. And he went to the British Open. His only time he played there and he won it. Three majors in a row. And the only reason he didn’t win the grand slam and win the PGA in August was that in those days, the PGA Tournament and the British Open overlapped, you couldn’t play in both of them. So he won six of his non-majors after the accident.
Ben Hogan, why do I mention Ben Hogan? Because he believed he could do it. He got up in the morning. Did he feel like doing it? And the answer is no, he didn’t feel like doing it, but he believed he could. He believed he could. He’s a hero to me. There are other aspects of Ben Hogan that I think are applicable to all of us. But for today, the lesson is, do you believe you can recover in a healthy way, not forgetting your loved one, not ever grieving again, of course, you’re going to grieve and cry in the future. Yes, you will. They’ll forever be a pain in your heart, a hole in your heart. But that hole in the heart does not have to debilitate me living forward with hope.
We’ve got to attack grief by believing we can do it. Ben Hogan’s a hero of mine and of many, but I’ll tell you who the real heroes are that we know. There are 1,552 people who’ve spent three and a half days with us sharing their hearts and their pain. And they’ve all felt like giving up. Our next video is going to be on attacking give up, but first, we have to believe we can do it. That’s part of attacking it. We got to believe we can do it. And our heroes, I could tell you about Jean, that she was married 56 years to her husband, 56 years. They did ministry together. What a sweetheart Jean is. We love her dearly. She comes to retreat on Thursdays. She shares her story of giving up. She said, “For the last year I could hardly get out of bed. I didn’t know how to live without my husband. We did everything together.” It was a great love story. And she was shattered. Of course, she was shattered. She lost her husband whom she loved dearly, and she didn’t have a reason, she said, to get up in the morning. By Sunday afternoon at the retreat, she said, I found my reason. I’m going to help people.
Jean Arthur: Hi, my name is Jean Arthur and I’m from White Land, Indiana. I came to this retreat after losing my husband of 56 years in July 2018 last year. It has changed my life already. I know I was lost when I came and I have a strength I know inside me that I can go back and I’m going back with a purpose in my life to live. I know there is still some living for me to do. And I didn’t know that when I came. And so one of the greatest moments was finding this place on the internet. I will forever be thankful to Rusty and to Dave and Debbie for what they have put within my life and for Spark of Life who does this. And I have to say also that for any donors that might see this and might give to people like me, it’s a marvelous thing that you’ve done for my life. And I will forever be grateful.
David Mathews: We shatter grief by believing we can get up out of bed, wash our face, and go out and live again. It takes time. And there’s no exact timeframe. But Jean is a hero of ours. Do you know what she does? People who come to our retreats, virtual retreats, online retreats, and people who come to in-person retreats, Jean will call them after the retreat, she’ll call everybody that’s come to retreat the last two years. And she says, how are you doing, we’re here, is there anything we can pray about? Or is there anything we can do for you? That’s what she does because she shattered. She shattered. She shattered the debilitating power of grief. She attacked it. She let herself grieve deeply. She didn’t minimize her pain. She believed that she could with the pain, get up, wash her face and attack grief and not let it ruin other relationships that are important to me at Spark of Life, we know because we’ve had 1,552 heroes that we’ve seen.
We’ve worked with thousands of other people in our grief course and our grief workshops and our online coaching that we have. If you need help attacking grief and living forward with hope, and with meaning, and with purpose, then contact us at sparkoflife.org. Tell your friends about it. Now we don’t know everything about grief and recovery, but we know enough. We know enough to know there’s always hope. At Spark of Life there’s always hope. Go to sparkoflife.org for more information and all the resources we offer you, you can get help today to live forward today within the next five minutes, contact us at sparkoflife.org, where there’s always hope.