Part of the grieving process, for me, is the ongoing effort to understand as many details of Evan’s accident as I can. Recently I searched online for news stories about the 48 hour search for him.
I’m not sure why I waited so long, but when I found some images I went numb, staring. All I could think was, “yes that’s him, those are his feet, that is his body, that’s Evan.” I showed Doug what I found and he commented on how difficult it was for them to get Evan’s body up the bank of the river.
It wasn’t until after morning prayer the next day that the feelings came flooding in as if the reality of what had happened dawned on me for the first time.
I discovered that my friend and one of my daughters had seen those same images and even more graphic ones months ago. When I reached out to first one, then the other, they allowed me to cry and express outrage. “How dare”, I asked my daughter, “strangers take pictures and videos of his lifeless body and post them on Facebook and TikTok?”
My gentle and wise daughter said she had felt the same way, but then she remembered that dozens of strangers also risked their lives to bring Evan back to us. They searched in an organized way until they found him, then worked for hours to retrieve his body from the river and carry him up a steep bank . Others expedited the process to repatriate him to the United States so we could honor his life with a funeral and burial.
It’s strange how anger and gratitude can sit intertwined within us. We rage against death and injustice while giving thanks for the selfless ways others come to our aid. It’s okay to acknowledge all the feelings, no matter how disparate.
Maybe that’s what it means to integrate this heretofore unimaginable grief into our lives.