Letter to my brother, Dan

Dear Dan,

Twenty-eight years ago this month, you were involved in a terrible accident, our family said our last good-byes to you, and we attended your packed-out funeral service. It was on this exact day, October 26, that your heart beat for the last time and your organs were donated to people who desperately needed them. The sadness that engulfs me at times is as fresh as the day you died. I am certain the same is true for mom, dad and David.

Grief is a powerful emotion. It has a way of never going away. It just hides until unsuspecting moments reach out and grab your heart in a vice grip all over again. For example, I grocery shop weekly, and uneventfully; but every once in a while when I spot one of your favorite foods—Pepperidge Farm coconut cake, Keebler Deluxe Grahams, or Entenmann’s cherry coffee cake—the vice grip happens. I end my shopping spree early and head to the car with tear-filled eyes because I still can’t believe you are gone.

Sometimes October passes by with little emotion, but not this year. This is a big month for us, Dan. I have written a book about what God has done in my life because of your death, and it goes to print tomorrow. Sometime between October 30 and November 3, it will become available for purchase.

I had just started dating a guy when you died. Though I didn’t know him well, he accompanied me to your funeral. Afterward he had a lot to say about what he knew I “needed” to handle my grief. Nothing he was saying made any sense. I ended up telling him that he was not qualified to know what I needed because he didn’t know me…or you…or us. Your funeral was the last time I saw him, but I learned what I needed.

I needed to write this book.

After falling apart for a season and making numerous poor decisions, I needed to sit with my Bible in my lap to think, write and process. This book was my road to healing. The early pages contain details about you, of course, but the rest of the book is about what God taught me. Through studying and writing I gained perspective, learned how to better view your death and handle my emotions, learned better how to process unwelcome circumstances that happen to me, and developed an insane desire to love every person on the globe with God’s love. (Website tab, About Oaks, “About Laurie” video)

In the grand scheme of things, life is a breath, a blink of an eye, a speck of dust.

But in the hands of God, our brief lives can have eternal significance.

As I have traversed the tricky waters of grief, God has allowed me to live some Bible verses. Not study them. Not memorize them.

Live them.

Here is one such verse. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

In the beginning of my journey with grief, I didn’t let God do anything. But there came a day when I wanted my glorious God back. I missed Him. And I wanted to be well. And I wanted to become a stronger person who wasn’t so rocked by her circumstances. I knew another tragic phone call could come at any time and I needed to know how to make it through the next tragic event.

So I drew close to God and I let him. I let God teach , comfort and mold me. I got better at letting Him live through me like He wants to do through all of us…if we let Him.

And I changed.

God changed me, Dan. Verses in the Bible are not trite passages to grab as Band-Aids or inspiring “word art.” They are real. And now as I read verses I have now lived–or I know that God can teach me to live–the Bible is alive.

So, my brother, as I recall our beginning,


(Dan is on the right. Mom was a nurse and dad a caretaker on an estate.)

And I remember you at the peak of your physical strength and charismatic personality that I still miss every day,


(Dan played college football.)

I dedicate my book to you.

“This book is dedicated to my brother, Daniel Clay Thompson. God used the tragedy of your death to dismantle my weak faith. He then carefully and lovingly rebuilt it from the ground up to be stronger and more beautiful than before. Who I am today is largely connected to what God has done in me through saying good-bye to you. I still love you and miss you every day.”

 Live Above the Chaos

Live ABOVE the Chaos will soon be released to the world for God to do whatever He wants to do with it. In a way, Dan, it’s our book.

I love you every day.


© 2014 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

6 Responses

  1. Oh, I am crying over this letter. I also have suffered over this in many of the same ways. Thank you Laurie, my sister in life and Christ, you are healing me too.

  2. Wonderful post, Laurie. I am reminded that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). He brings beauty from ashes and changes our mourning into joy (Isaiah 61:3)! I cannot wait to hold a copy of your book!

  3. I was very moved by your letter to your brother Dan. I lost my youngest son Joe just 8 months ago and your words of grief rang so true. It is only that God has shown me that He is not only sovereign but He is good. I know that He will never leave me or forsake me. And yet the pain of my loss is ever with me and I wonder who I will become as I walk through this path of grief.

  4. Beautifully written, Laurie. What a BIG month for you!! Wish I had been able to meet Dan!! May your book help others to learn how to live above the chaos when their worlds are rocked!!

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I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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