How my faith and the Charlotte community taught me a lesson about coping with grief

How my faith and the Charlotte community taught me a lesson about coping with grief
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I do my best thinking when I run. I believe that during my favorite stretch of pavement – the piece of Selwyn Avenue that runs along Queens University – I get my very best thinking done.

On a recent usual nightly run, on that particular stretch, I was thinking about a friend of mine who had an alcoholic parent; they recently had an intervention to deal with the issue. I thought of another friend who just lost a parent. I hurt for my friends.

I could not imagine how hard the days had been for my friends. I didn’t want them to be sad, I didn’t want them to lack hope. I wanted them to be happy, to try to find a silver lining within their current circumstance. My head raced with the possible ways I could comfort them. What could I possibly point out to them, to say ‘hey at least…’? The answer evaded me for a bit but finally, it hit me.

God will never let you down.

Through all this adversity, uncertainty, and hurt my friends were facing, they could take solace in one thing: God will never let you down.

I began to think about how it applied to my own life as well as others’ lives. How I could use myself and others around me as examples of this grand epiphany that finally hit me. God will never let you down. I knew it because I’m proof. I’m an example that God will never let you down.

Having your father suddenly pass away when you’re 18 years old, seven months away from graduating high school and heading to college, is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t angry, bitter, or that I didn’t question God’s plan for me. And I’m sure at some point in my life I hit the awful trifecta of feeling all three at the same time. As bad as I felt at times, God never let me down.



This past Nov. 3 marked the six-year anniversary of my father’s death. That period of time is the evidence of God’s loyalty to me that I’m trying to convey.

During that time I have been blessed with so many wonderful things. My mom and I are so close, it’s absolutely unbelievable for me to fathom sometimes. My brothers and I, who were close before our father’s death, have hit a stratosphere of togetherness I didn’t know existed.


My mom was born and raised in Charlotte, and her parents, along with her siblings and their families, still live here. My extended family has morphed into extra sets of moms and dads, brothers and sisters.

I don’t know what floor my father was on when he passed away at Presbyterian Hospital – I wasn’t able to make it in time. But I do know the beautiful maternity ward in the very same hospital gave me my niece and nephew as the Charlotte skyline became their first outside view. One perfect Charlotte night and one blue-sky Charlotte morning provided my family with those precious moments and those precious people years after we lost our patriarch in the same building.


I’ve made the best friends that anyone could ask for. Growing up here, most of them hail from the Queen City. I don’t deserve friends like mine but I’m lucky enough to have them anyway. An added bonus has been the families my friends come from.

Each and every one of my friends seems to have come from the most wonderful family I can think of. Each of their fathers gives me advice while also infusing kindness, laughter and fun into my life. Each of their mothers gives me the best hugs and is always so incredibly kind and inclusive.

Their siblings treat me like I’m part of their family rundown. This goes for friends I made before my dad’s passing as well as afterward, a true blessing.


Over the years, I have been blessed with relationships that were beautifully timed. One recent breakup hurt but relationships don’t work out for various reasons and taking lessons away from the failures is just as valuable.

Professionally, I have been blessed more than I can say. In a business that is tough to crack, I’ve managed to make something stick. It all started with an internship here in Charlotte, at WFNZ, the local sports radio station.

During those summers on South Blvd., everyone in that building and anyone associated with the sports world in Charlotte was kind to me, whether they knew about my past or not. They continue to be there for me to this day. Not only was it an incredible experience but through it all, I have been blessed to befriend a person who has completely taken me under his wing. An act I’ll never be able to thank him enough for.

My church, Myers Park Methodist, has been there for my family since day one, especially Rev. Bill Roth.

My dad’s local watering hole was Selwyn Pub. They placed a picture of him over the jukebox after his passing. Their bartenders will treat me to a free drink during most of my visits (sorry to snitch, but I have always appreciated your kindness).


My father’s work for the Department of Justice, in a building and courthouse situated in uptown Charlotte, inspired his coworkers to set up a fund for my college tuition.

I could go on and on about the ways I have been blessed. It is truly extraordinary. A lot of kindness has come my way over the last six years, with most of it originating in the 704.

As much detail as I’ve put into this, I have forgotten one large point – because there is a catch.

God will never let you down, but, you have to keep the faith. You have to be persistent. You have to be patient. You have to be willing and able to stick with Him. God is going to put you through things that seem unsurvivable. But you can survive. You will survive through patience, persistence, and most importantly: faith.

Your community will be there for you. Sometimes it just takes a moment to sit down and think about everything and everyone around you that is there to help. This loving town showed me this valuable lesson.

I’m still young. I’m only 24 years old. Hopefully I still have years and years left ahead of me. I’m sure more experiences that seem unsurvivable are still waiting in the wings for me. But so are the many blessings we are given in life. My story is not even close to being done yet. And my friends don’t need to believe theirs is over either.

I don’t have all the answers, I don’t want to come off like I do. I know I don’t have everything figured out but I do know at least one thing:

God will never let you down, you just gotta keep the faith.

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"It's good. I promise." - Emma   Emma Way