Mark Negley has experienced loss experiences and struggles that would make most people say “dear God, please don’t let me go through that.” Mark shares with tremendous vulnerability about the challenges that have crossed, and even shaped, his journey: a son with special needs; a cancer diagnosis (followed by a miraculous healing); an accident that nearly killed his wife; and fallout from the accident which led his wife into a severe depression that took her life.
Mark explains how the loss of his wife to depression and suicide ignited a passion for raising awareness about depression and helping others through difficult life experiences. He describes how he has spent the last four years studying, reading and learning about loss and grief, interviewing numerous people about their own loss and grief experiences, and facilitating grief support groups. His life experiences and work led to revelations about the nature of grief, about how we deal with grief, and about the healing and hopeful words of Scripture regarding God’s promises in difficult times. His efforts have culminated in a new book, Survive-Alive-Thrive: Navigating the Journey from Loss to Hope to Happiness, that redefines the loss experience and provides a new model for understanding grief recovery for the millions of Americans who suffer loss each year. Mark notes that in a WebMD survey 71% of Americans self-reported as having directly suffered a “loss event” within the last few years. It has also led to a new non-profit he started called Survive-Alive-Thrive with a vision to equip churches and other organizations to help people through the grief process.
Mark reveals why the often-quoted “5 Stages of Grief” were really designed for those diagnosed with a terminal illness and are not particularly helpful for other loss experiences (e.g., loss of a loved one, loss of a marriage, loss of a business, loss of a job). He presents the experiential “3 Stages of Grief” that have come from his discussions with others who have suffered loss as well as his own experiences–Survive, Alive, Thrive, always tying the process and hope to the hope we find in God’s word, in God’s grace and in Jesus. Mark also explores the nature of “joy” and how joy rooted in God sustains, while joy rooted in worldly measures will always disappoint–echoes of the NCS theme song “Knowing You” (see the link below to listen).
He even presents a a very “NCS-like” path to healing–sharing with others, sharing with God, not doing it alone, and recognizing that the “sufferer” can become the “comforter”–all of which are at the foundation of the New Canaan Society and NCS Energy Groups–brothers “showing up” authentically, having each other’s back, and together pursuing deeper friendship with Jesus and with each other.