Seeing - and feeling - the news from the other side
When the image of my brother-in-laws mangled car appeared on the television, the room went silent.
Together with his two sisters and a friend, the four of us watched the news report depicting his fatal car crash from barely 48 hours earlier.
The news report was brief: Douglas Bonham, a 30-year-old teacher from Silverton, and his 16-year-old passenger, Matthew Albrecht, were killed near Molalla when Dougs car went off the road.
Altogether, the report lasted maybe one minute. It might have been longer, but it seemed quick.
Well, now we know what that feels like, I said as the next news story began ostensibly leaving our Doug in the past to be forgotten. No other words were said. The room remained quiet as we each fell into our own minds.
Seeing a news report about Doug, while sitting on Dougs couch in Dougs living room watching Dougs TV, was entirely surreal. And the days that followed were a blur.
I remember thinking about all the car accidents and police press releases I see in a week. I remember thinking of how unfazed I typically am when I see them how little I consider the families that are affected by these tragedies.
Its not because Im some callous reporter some news media monkey that just digs dirt and rakes the muck like some bad-news churning machine. Its because Im human and empathy is difficult at a distance.
But as I pondered the news report and the continuance of my life without Doug in it, something profound struck me: This really truly is what it feels like for every person who experiences this kind of loss.
It changed my perspective as a reporter. It changed my perspective as a human being.
Until youve lost someone dear to you, theres no way of knowing what that pain feels like.
Its emptiness. Its sadness. Its numbness. Its an indescribable heartache that rattles the very core of my being. And its a feeling shared by every person who loses a loved one.
Two days before Dougs crash, I interviewed a homeless man who told me about losing both his parents and his 2-year-old daughter in a five-year span. He had turned to drugs to ease his pain.
At the time I thought I understood why hed do that I mean, it made sense. That kind of loss sounds unbearable.
But considering it with Dougs death so fresh gave me a different insight into what he was going through.
We all dealt with our grief in our own way. Dougs wife and their two kids, Stacie and I, our kids, and Dougs other sister, Shelly, with her husband too many people to name, honestly we all dealt with it together but separately.
I guess thats normal.
Even now, more than a month later, were all still dealing as best we can.
The waves come unexpectedly. Sometimes they come with a laugh, sometimes with tears.
Yet what I know for sure is that Ill never again take for granted a news story about death.
All life is precious. I believed this before Doug died, but empathy is difficult at a distance.
Now Im closer.
Travis Loose is a reporter with the News-Times and the Hillsboro Tribune.