Dealing with Loss by Leaning on God


Brian Holloway is a Stanford All-American and five-time NFL All-Pro. He excelled as the team captain of the 1985 New England Patriots AFC Championship Team. In 1986, at age 26, Holloway was one of the principal architects of the NFL's growth strategy that produced a landmark $18 billion TV contract in 1998. Look for his distinguished football accomplishments to be recorded in the Pro Football's Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame coach and NFL dynasty-crafter Bill Walsh calls Brian "A true champion. A playmaker and a leader that calls out the best in people." He is also the father of 10 children, grandfather of 7, and my personal best friend.


One of Brian’s sons was tragically killed last year. We’ve asked him to share some of the things he’s learned as a dad and what the Lord has been showing him through this loss.

When I was in high school, I had a hard time ever imagining myself as a father, because I lost my older brother when I was three years old and he was four. I have always felt the presence of my brother David.

Throughout the course of my lifetime, I have prayed for my children so that if something like that happens to one of them, that I will be given the strength to be able to continue on. It needs unimaginable thought and prayer to go through something like this.

I also knew that when my kids went off to college that I would have to release them and turn them over to God’s protection. Even though it was fun watching them go do what they wanted to do, it was very difficult to have yet another child leave the house.

In this particular case, it was extremely horrible to lose my son, and yet I will tell you that the hand of God was there. In that moment, God said several things to me.

The first thing He said was, “Brian, I want you to know he was My child that I trusted you with. He was one of my favorite gifts and I want Him home. You’re my child too, and there will come a time when I’m going to call you home.”

The other thing that happened, I looked up to the heavens just in despair and I saw my son Max holding open heaven so that I could feel it. It was an unbelievable experience. He had the biggest smile on his face. There was no pain, no needing, no concern. Only a sense of freedom, love and joy. It was the ‘eternal’ that was so powerful. After about 5-10 seconds he zoomed, as in leaped off into heaven. It was so profound that I didn’t even speak of it for about 6 months. It was like a burning bush experience for me.

The bible says that when we receive Jesus He promises to give us eternal life. We’re not limited by this time and space. It’s a life before God forever and ever.

I miss my son daily. He is with me all time, but I understand that we were created for something far more significant and his passing has focused me on that purpose in a much deeper way.

Only Jesus can give us peace and make sense of the things that happen in our life. There is no real answer for this. It’s really just being present in times of loss than having an answer for why it’s happening of what’s happening.

I remember you Ed, telling me years ago, and I took this advice, “This is the time you lean on God. Don’t try to do it yourself. You need to lean on God right now.”

God has commissioned you to have a life of service, love, power and forgiveness. He has shown us the way – so much so that He was willing to give the life of His Son for us to receive that. So I would offer a prayer of support to those of you who are going through a time of grief and loss right now – that you would know that the hand of God is upon you through the promise of Jesus Christ. The future that you’ve dreamed about is unfolding even right now.

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Published on February 12, 2018.

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