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What I Learned From My Son’s Death

Eighteen years age today Dec. 11th 1992 the phone by the bed rang at 6:10am.

The voice on the phone abruptly said that my son Brian (24) had been killed in a hunting accident. There was no time to process, to prepare, to adjust. Brian was dead! No hope that doctors could help. No experimental new procedures to try.

Brian was killed instantly when a black powder gun accidentally discharged and hit him in the head in preparation for a deer hunt. That call changed my life in so many ways. But when the flurry of funeral arrangements, an influx of friends and family (so valuable) had gone home, and all the painful details of the next few days passed – then Christmas commitments were kept – I rapidly moved to make drastic changes to my life.

Life on Earth suddenly seemed tenuous, uncertain. Whatever I wanted to do in life seemed urgent. I had already bought the Whitestone property back in 1989. I immediately arranged to sell the Shop At Home TV network, to sell the remaining Book Warehouse stores and to start the transition from pastor at Bethesda Christian Fellowship to innkeeper.

With a sense of urgency I hired land planners and architects and assembled all the notes and pictures that I had been collecting in 30 years of dreaming. Whitestone opened for it’s first guests 4 years later.

Brian’s death changed my view about life on Earth. For the first time I agreed with British theologian G.K. Chesterton who said “There comes to all men ultimately the awareness that this Earth is the wrong place”.

Every day is now lived with the knowledge that there are things we can’t control. Every day is a great treasure. If something is really important do it soon. Express love because if it’s unexpressed it has the same effect as indifference. Treasure relationships. Distinguish between things that matter only on Earth and things that have eternal consequences. Every day try to make the load lighter for those less fortunate.

I have not questioned God and my faith survived Brian’s death without difficulty. I have the assurance that I will see him again. That’s not to say that his absence does not cause pain. It does.But I know more about the love of God that I knew before. (He let His Son die for me)

I live every day with an eternal perspective that I did not have before. I am letting life be all it can be without demanding it be more than it can be.I cry easier, treasure hugs, express love and see every day as a gift from God. I look forward to the future- on Earth and on the other side

Three weeks after Brian’s death I spoke to a few friends about what I was learning from his death.

If you would like to hear a longer version that especially focuses on God’s love you can call Whitestone: 888-247-2464 and we will ship the CD to you for $3 postage and handling.

I would welcome your response.

Paul Cowell

  1. Paul, I cannot imagine what you and Jean went through when you lost Brian. But I know that your response, in your faith and your life, is a lesson and inspiration to us all. God bless you both richly through this season and the coming year.

  2. Thank you Paul for sharing.

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