Saturday, August 9, 2008

Good Grief

“A human life is a story told by God.”Hans Christian Andersen
I attended the funeral of a 23-year-old man this week and never were those words written by Hans Christian Andersen truer. Nichollas Jon Newell was his name and he died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep. He lived a life filled with pain as a result of the illness that caused his death and was treated for each symptom along the way, but nothing could save his life when God called him home.

I didn’t know Nick well—in fact had only met him recently and spent a small fragment of time with him, but got to know him vicariously through my sister and her family who loved him deeply. I got to know him all the more at his memorial service, where people filled the church and stood outside lining the building.

The story God told in and through this young man’s brief life was of struggle, sadness and pain for the most part. But the chapter he would want remembered was the most recent in which God’s transformational power reigned in Nick’s life, allowing him to overcome gang involvement and drug addiction.

But this saga doesn’t end there. Nick became a counselor at New Horizon Christian Academy (a school for troubled boys) where he lived in very meager surroundings. In spite of his crushing pain, he worked hard and didn’t complain. He never responded in anger when his boys gave him a challenge or when adults (friends or strangers) were rude, unkind or judgmental. The story God told through his abbreviated life was one of deep love…for God and for people. The only sad part of the story is that it left many, many people longing for more.

Grief is so multidimensional. It has an impact on entire families, even communities, as with Nick. But within that is the personal grief experienced by each person. What a mom feels is different than what a sister feels, than what a fiancée feels, than what a friend feels... It is just as real and hurts just as much and is experienced and expressed uniquely by each of those left in the wake.

Grief never feels good. It hurts like hell. But if grief could possibly have an upside, it would be that everyone experiencing it could feel such certainly that their loved one lived a life utterly overflowing with joy and has moved on to even more of the same (without physical pain or unkind people) for eternity. Those who loved Nick have that assurance to make their grief a little more bearable. I think Nick would be so happy for that and would want those who loved him to be able to recover from this disabling grief and look toward the story God is writing in their own lives.
Dedicated to Nick’s precious Natalie
Diane Markins
*View Nick's rap on YouTube:


Anonymous said...

I send my condolences to Nick's family and the McChesney family. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Maggie Walker

Shannon said...

This is a great blog Diane. I know he would be so touched to hear that he was thought of so highly and by so many. I will pray for your family and his as you all go through this grieving period. I hope you take comfort in knowing that he is in a better place and he is with our maker.


Hannah J. said...

Out of the short time I've known Nick - he was an instant brother to me. I loved him like family and I'm still crushed. All I could think about was asking God 'why did it have to be so soon?' and I believed Nick didn't deserve to die - not yet. But, I know that he's in the 'better place' we all dream about and I am SO glad he's there, with his Abba Father, rather than down here suffering so much.
Thanks for the article, Diane, it helps keeping Nick's legacy alive - no matter how short it was.

-Hannah J. Janiec

Anonymous said...

Although I don't know you I hurt for you just as I do for my nieces and everyone else who has such a huge hole in their hearts right now that Nick filled. I'm counting on God's peace to bring comfort.

Cheryl Lewis said...

My Heart's been touched, even though I never had the pleasure of meeting this beautiful soul!

It's heart breaking to hear of someone being taken so young, who overcame the negative environment trap he was sucked into, and who come away from it all with the passion he drew from it and putting it to good use for others.

Thank You Diane! Thank you for pointing out God's good work through a beautiful mortal soul, and though it was brief... The lives Nick touched while on this earth will carry on his positive memories and we can all be happy knowing that he is now doing his good work from another plane.

Susan said...

Thank you for writing this article about my son Nick and for all the love and prayers. We miss him terribly - he is definitely "one of a kind" and it makes me smile just to say that - he is so full of fun!
God has been so close to us and I am keenly aware of Nick's presence with us and the peace he has in his true home in heaven.
If you want to see more of him, go to azteenchallenge - click on the men's Phoenix center and then click on the documentary DVD. It starts with Nick performing one of the raps he wrote on the streets of Phoenix and then he (along with others) shares his testimony - be sure to watch until the very end.
Thank you,

Diane Markins said...

None of us can imagine the loss you're feeling Susan. It sounds like you are doing an admirable job of coping and drawing on your love and memories of Nick to help you through. So very sorry for what you (and the rest of the world) lost too soon.
The link to the video of Nick is:,783,1159,1178

Anonymous said...

In response to inquiries about making a donation in in Nick's name: Thank you for wanting to carry out Nick's legacy in helping make a difference in the life of a young man. You can make a check out to New Horizons Christian Academy and refer the check to Nick Newell's Scholarship fund. These funds will be used in helping a struggling family find and retain the help needed for their child. We appreciate your efforts in helping us spreading a message of hope and keeping a good name alive. Again, Thank you and may God continue to Bless you and your family.
Sharon Butler, NHCA

Rebel said...

Thank you for sharing Nick's story. I love hearing about God's miraculous work in the lives of His children. My heart goes out to Nick's family and each of his loved ones.

Anonymous said...

Diane--Just wanted you to know that the quote you used in your tribute to Nick became the inspiration I needed for my Mom's eulogy. It's amazing how the Lord works. I read your message late one night at Panera's (my only internet access while I was gone) and went to bed thinking, "Lord, I know my Mom asked me to speak at her service, but I just don't think I can do it." I woke up with the whole message clearly in my head--all I had to do was type it up. He used YOU to jump start me. Thanks so much.
Nancy Parker Brummett