My best response to loss



As I get older I am learning to trust God more and more. God is (thankfully) winning, but I have to say, it has been a hard-fought battle. I confess that when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in the Spring of 1989 one of the first thoughts that came to mind was, “Really, God, with all the yo-yo’s in the world, You let Charlie McCoart get Alzheimer’s Disease? Really? Let me pick next time.” I felt the same way when my friend Roman Catholic Bishop Joe Estabrook died young of pancreatic cancer. I felt that way when my brothers died young. And when Princess Diana died young. Add to the list when I was very young: Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby and John F. Kennedy. It’s hard to understand why.

Pretty, right? Nice mouth, priest. To be fair I wasn’t actually a priest yet, but I was well on my way. It just ticked me off. About my father’s Alzheimer’s Disease, my second thought was to feel badly for my nieces and nephews. They’d be robbed of precious time spent in this good man’s company. Then I was ticked for my Mom, who, no doubt, though she never said, had waited decades to walk hand-in-hand with this man into retirement. Retirement which never came.

Sometimes life deals out bitter pills to swallow and the loss of Brock III was one of those times for me. It takes a whole heck of a lot to silence me; but when I found Brock dead in the yard, I was stunned silent. Trust me, I’m not confused about human family and canine family. My father is not my dog. My deceased brothers are not my canine companions. Still, as a single guy, with no biological family of my own, my pet companions mean a lot to me. I give them a lot of love and in return they love me unconditionally. A better deal I could not have.

The afternoon of the day Brock died I went to deliver the sad news to my Mom. Within a nanosecond Mom knew. As soon as Mom saw me and didn’t see Brock, she asked what had happened. I shared that as best we could tell Brock either choked on something I could not see in his windpipe or his stomach flipped, we’ll never know. I shared that the vet had speculated that maybe Brock had an aneurism or a heart attack or a stroke. None of those rang true to me. In my heart of hearts I think Brock died of a fluke accident. Nothing more. Nothing less. And we’ll never know exactly what happened. The evening of Brock’s death, I asked God to give me peace with the question of not knowing, and I can honestly say God has given me that peace. I don’t need to know. If I needed to know I would know. I’ve made peace with that. I know a few people who have not received answers to the big questions they have about hard things in their lives, and they have not been able to find peace. That’s a tough way to live. I’m grateful for the peace; and grateful for the time Brock III and I spent in each other’s presence.

After a respectful amount of time Mom asked if perhaps it was time to consider another breed. I responded, “Tell me more about what you’re thinking?” Mom gave it some thought and said, “Nah, you’re right, we’re German Shepherd people.” Ha. Done. Agreed.  Some more time passed and Mom asked if after 22 years of dogs named “Brock” was it time to retire that name? I said, “Yes, I think you’re right, now is exactly the right time to try a new name.” Mom asked if I had given any other names some thought and I shared I was thinking maybe “Toby.” Mom asked, “Were there any other names you were thinking of?” To which I responded, “Yes, Maximus, I was thinking Maximus and maybe we’d call him Max.” Mom said, “That’s a fine German Shepherd name.” Done.

Gotta love our moms. I’m 56 years of age, and I trust Mom’s wisdom and perspective on life more than any other in the world. She’s made a lifetime of good decisions, and I love that Mom still, gently, moms me. I’ll welcome it until her dying day or mine.

So I don’t wait long, you know that, right? My best response to loss is to choose to keep living. Eight days in between Brock II and Brock III. Now, again, eight days until I brought Max(imus) home. Please join me in welcoming Max.


Meet Maximus!

Max arrived at nine weeks of age on March 21 and I’ve been deep into Puppy Boot Camp ever since. Max is smart, intuitive, independent, and loving in his own way – even if he doesn’t dig snuggling! He licks my face and wags his tail, which is new for me.

Things are going well. If you’d like to meet Max stop by Emmanuel Episcopal some day and give him a scratch under the chin. He’d like to meet you as well.



Max’s impression of a bear cub.


Mom and Max










While not every loss comes with a gift as joyful as a new puppy; I’m learning more and more to trust in the God who made us all and loves us all.

Just yesterday I heard this song “Trust in You” by singer-songwriter Lauren Daigle. Lauren is among the finest of new artists of Contemporary Christian Music, and her beautiful song about trusting in God spoke to my heart.  I hope she speaks to your heart as well.


Peace friends,


(and Max!)


Me and Max.


Being a puppy can be tiring.











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  • Mike says:

    So very happy to hear/see/read that you have a furry friend back in your life. As someone else noted, also great to see a pic of the mom you’ve written about so much — they’re a great lot, moms!

    All the best, stay cool this summer!

    Mike, Laura, Emily, Danny (and our own scruffy friends Jada and Maddie) 🙂

  • Shawn Yorke says:

    Peace my to my dear cousin and to Brock III as well.

    Welcome to an absolutely great family, Max! It’s gonna be a “stone cold gas”! 🙂

    Health, happiness and of course trust to everyone!!!


  • Albert Trotter says:

    what an emotional and heart touching post it is..Max is rally adorable..enjoy your journey with beautiful,sincere fellow max

  • Kathleen Shaw says:

    Hi I am so happy that you have Max you are a lucky duo

  • David Crosby says:

    Bless you, Chuck. I look forward to meeting Max.

  • Meg Silva says:

    Max is such a cute puppy. Wishing many happy days with your new companion!

  • Michele says:

    Love this! Love and miss you, Chuck

  • Dave Bundren says:


    Maybe the best part of my day is when Rosie (named after Springsteen’s Rosalita) comes bounding over to me, unfailingly, as I come home from work. I sense it’s a good part of her day as well. Dogs — and priests — are the greatest.

    All the best,


  • Rose says:

    Enjoy the puppy time – looking at his picture I’m thinking judging by the size of his paws he will be one BIG dog very soon.

  • Alan Prochoroff says:

    What beautiful sentiments. Wishing you many happy days ahead with Max.

  • Jim & Roni says:

    Welcome Max!! And Chuck – may you enjoy the joys of puppyhood!! The great way they learn new things and experiences … puppy breath … and that unconditional love you wrote of. I think that’s what draws us to dogs – yes we are dog people too – it’s that no one else waits at the door to greet you with their tail wagging! And they love you no matter what! Can’t wait to meet Max very soon!

    Love you!

    Jim & Roni

  • Joann Manzek says:

    Dear Chuck,
    How lucky you are to still be “Momed”! Hugs to your lovely Mom, you & Max. Enjoy all the crazy puppy stuff!

  • Leslie says:

    Max is so cute!! He is lucky to have chosen you as his companion!
    Your words about finding peace with loss are beautifully true.
    Mark and I ( and the labs) may just stop by some day…please hug your mom for us! She looks amazing!! xo

  • Ellen Hoffman says:

    Welcome to Max. Condolences for the loss of Brock. Jackie will be here next week. We may stop in at your office to say “Hello!”

  • Mariela V says:

    Hello, Chuck, and WELCOME, Max! What a handsome pup! I share in your feelings about canine companionship. I have no human children of my own, and my four-legged ones are the best ever! I cannot wait to meet Max! Maybe around Easter… I have a few days off, and would love to come up and meet Max, and give you a a big hug, my friend!
    Peace, Mariela

  • Velvet says:

    Oh Chuck, I’m so very sorry to read this sad news about Brock III, but so happy to learn about Max. I can’t wait to meet him. Love you.

  • Barbara says:

    Hi Chuck. I knew you at St. Aidan’s. When I read about the loss of Brock III I was sad … so young and so soon. I am very glad that you now have Max. He looks like a wonderful pop. My “best buddy” cat Alexander that I so loved died in Feb. So much grief for this very “senior” widow who lived alone with her cat. All best wishes for your fun and joyful time with Max.

  • Christopher Lane says:

    Wonderful, Salve Maximus

  • Kathy says:

    Max is adorable! I hope he brings you much happiness.

  • Beck Yvonne Schulte says:

    Hi Chuck.

    As you might remember, we have always had pets. I know that loss and am so glad to hear you can go on and love another. They give us so much like be.

    You are right about family and pets. But, we love and thank God for both.

    ❤. Yvonne

  • Kathy says:

    Ah Chuck my friend – so good, so good to see photos – especially of your mom! It’s been so many years since I have seen her. Blessings on you and Max – many fun journeys ahead for you two!

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