A Father’s Grief

by Jun 13, 2019Brunswick County Life, North Brunswick

Leland resident Brad Benton writes a book as part of the healing process following his daughter’s passing.

On June 25, 2017, Brad Benton began a blog [[https://afathersgriefbybradbenton.com/]] called A Father’s Grief. A supervisor at FedEx Freight, Benton had never planned on becoming a writer. But in the wake of his daughter Lindsay’s passing, he needed to.

“I was looking for a way to let out my grief because I was starting to keep it all in,” he says. “The easiest way for me to do that was to write it down.” The words came fast, and one year later he had completed 52 blog posts, one for every week.

Less than a year before Benton’s first blog post, his 17-year-old daughter Lindsay was on the way to see a friend when her car was struck by an SUV. It was the Sunday before the first day of her senior year at Wilmington Christian Academy. A vivacious cheerleader and driven student, Lindsay had plans to become a life-saving trauma surgeon. That evening, she was rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. After an emergency surgery and a week in the STICU, she passed away.

At 16, Lindsay had registered to be an organ donor. As doctors and nurses rolled her toward the operating room to give life to others, her father couldn’t comprehend saying goodbye. Instead, he imagined her in a white coat with her name stitched on the front: Lindsay M. Benton, M.D. This is one of many honest and heart-wrenching moments Benton shares in his self-published book, A Father’s Grief: A Year of Healing.

In the wake of their loss, Lindsay’s family created the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation (LMBF), a nonprofit organization, to bring awareness to organ donation and the importance of organ donor registration. The foundation continues to raise funds for Carolina Donor Services and the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer and Art Fund at Wilmington Christian Academy, as well as Pretty and Pink and the New Hanover County Special Olympics, two causes Lindsay actively supported. “It created a triumph out of tragedy,” Benton says.

As Benton tried to process his grief, he blogged about what mourning meant to him as a father. “Every time something like this happens, the first words out of people’s mouths seem to be, ‘her poor mother.’ But dads hurt, too. I wanted people to see what a dad went through, what a dad had to deal with, and how I handled it.”

What followed were wide-ranging reflections on the messy realities of grief: how laughing at a selfies-obsessed daughter turns into holding onto the images she left behind, all the things you shouldn’t say to someone who’s mourning (like “How are you doing?” and “I know how you feel”) and the thousands of things that bring her memory back, from hearing a Beyoncé song to driving by Insomnia Cookies.

“The main reason I published this book was to help other people understand that eventually, everything’s going to be okay. It’s never going to be right again, but everything will be okay one day,” Benton says.

A Father’s Grief, A Year of Healing is currently available through Westbow Press and can be purchased on the website [[https://www.westbowpress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001196047]].