,

When It’s Really Hard to Take a Family Photo

It was two years ago this evening I received the news. Since I had been flying home from speaking at a retreat in Texas, I’m pretty sure I was the last to find out. 

My 29-year-old brother, James, is dead. 

My husband and I frantically packed our family of five and left for home the next morning. During that eight hour drive, tears came often and sporadically. This can’t be real. He’s really not dead. He’ll be there when we get home. He will. 

It felt like a really bad dream. Completely surreal.

———

I stood shaking, with my mom and dad, brother and sister in the funeral room parlor. We sobbed for what seemed like hours as we said our final goodbyes to James. My eyes played tricks on me as I looked into the casket. His chest seemed to raise and lower. But it couldn’t be. He had been dead for days. My eyes saw what my heart longed for. Breath. Life. A second chance. 

My hand touched his cold face and I kissed his forehead.

Goodbye, James. 

Back at my parent’s home it felt as if he should be home for dinner any minute now. Still, to this day, I expect him to walk around the corner and make his appearance.

But he never does. He never will.

How I long to see him again. To be a better sister. To store up and savor every moment we had together. 

There is a place in my heart that will continually long for him to pull up in the driveway to join us for dinner. The grief-filled room will forever be in my blueprint.

family photo

As a family, we are completely incomplete without James. We have yet to take any new pictures together. It’s not that we’ve made a pact not to. We’ve not even talked about it. It just doesn’t seem natural anymore; it doesn’t seem right to take a family picture with one of us missing.

Maybe we’ll be able to this year. Maybe.

13 replies
  1. Lisa notes
    Lisa notes says:

    Oh, my heart hurts for you, Katie. 🙁 I remember after my baby died, I took very few pictures for a long while because I felt that every picture would be incomplete. Praying that this year you will be able to take new photos if you’re ready. I’m sure you were an awesome sister to James.

    Reply
    • Katie
      Katie says:

      Thanks, Lisa. It’s funny the “little” things you never thought would be a grief-trigger.

      Reply
  2. Misty
    Misty says:

    So sorry for your loss, praying for our Lord to comfort you and give you strength. Wish we had surrounded you more as a church family during that time, and wish I had been more supportive too. Praying for you today with tears and hugs.

    Reply
    • Katie
      Katie says:

      Thank you for your prayers, Misty! I’ve never had a thought about how supportive (or not) the church or any individuals have been! God has been my faithful support and comforter. Appreciate you!

      Reply
  3. Mary
    Mary says:

    Dear Katie, Grief is an road full of twists and turns. Navigating it is different for each person. Praying you feel the arm’s of the great comforter as you walk this path.

    Reply
  4. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Thank you Katie for sharing your story I lost my mother very unexpected a week ago and the pain is unbearable I pray I will have strength to move forward but I have to because I have three children but I feel the grief is like a wave but I also keep thinking she’s going to call me on the phone or she’s just away but is coming back .I will pray for you to find peace and you can say a prayer for me Thank you xo

    Reply
    • Katie
      Katie says:

      I’m so sorry, Shannon. The pain is deep and it is certainly hard to grieve through the waves of grief with children around.

      **Lord, surround Shannon with your undeniable presence through this difficult time. Be her strength.**

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply