Mark Pickup


January 12, 2015

It was a freakish accident that had catastrophic results. A few days after moving to my community, 13-year-old Lincoln Grayson fell off his bicycle and broke his neck.

He was rushed to the Stollery Children's Hospital where doctors worked frantically to initially save his life and then stabilize his condition. They induced a coma to completely immobilize him and performed a number of surgeries. Lincoln is now quadriplegic.

Seven months after his accident, his family is preparing to bring Lincoln home. His father said to me, "We are about to start our new normal."

Indeed they are. From first-hand experience, I can say that adapting to a new normal of sudden onset disability is difficult and can be heartbreaking. But it is possible. After the shock of their new reality begins to ease and the family's acute grief becomes more manageable, and with support for Lincoln and his family, and appropriate aids to assist Lincoln, they may emerge from the ashes of this misfortune.

It's going to be a hard journey, but Lincoln is young and has a positive attitude. He has a good family and a good community that has rallied to help them with that new reality. Practical matters are being addressed to make Lincoln's world as accessible and barrier free as possible. A trust fund has raised $100,000 to adapt the Graysons' home; over $65,000 has been raised in 22 days.

The Knights of Columbus in Beaumont (Our Lady of the Hill Council) purchased a high-end computerized electric wheelchair that can be programmed so Lincoln can operate it independently.

The grand knight of the council, Perry Hendriks, spearheaded the project. He also owns Hendriks Construction which specializes in barrier-free design. Perry has offered to guide the Graysons through the unfamiliar and intimidating tasks of making their home as wheelchair accessible as possible or building a new home more suitable to Lincoln's needs.

The practical issues can be the easiest to address. The emotional and spiritual issues surrounding Lincoln's new world are more difficult and complex.

The Grayson family must mourn the loss of their son as they knew him. The old Lincoln is gone, a new Lincoln will emerge perhaps just a vital and dynamic as ever but expressed differently. That is where the community and Church play an important role in encouraging the new Lincoln and supporting his family in recovering from their grief.


It is important to resist the temptation to become bitter – although there may naturally be a phase of that. The Church and community can help to get past the bitterness. How? Connect, befriend, console, include, encourage.

The Grayson family must re-establish its interconnectedness and how its members relate with their community. What happened to Lincoln is not something that slipped God's attention. It was allowed for a reason and a purpose.

There are two Bible passages that I have embraced throughout my 30-year disability journey: Both are in chapter eight of St. Paul's letter to the Romans. Verse 18 says, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed in us."

Paul was referring to "the redemption of our bodies" at the resurrection. We will be like Christ whose resurrection preceded us. My disability will be gone and I shall have a glorified body. Ten verses later we read, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."


Nothing slips by God's attention. All things work together for good, even those that may appear bad like a spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. For those who love God, everything works together and becomes part of the purpose for which they were created. Those who love God can discover that purpose.

Pope Benedict XVI captured an inkling of this mysterious purpose in his book Jesus of Nazareth (Ignatius Press, 2011): "We can, as it were, become bread, to the extent that the mystery of Christ is communicated through our life and our suffering, and to the extent that his love makes us an offering to God and to our fellowman."

At some point in our grief journey, we have the opportunity to say "yes" to Christ and give our sufferings and disabilities to God as an offering and Christian witness for the hope that lies within us. Thanks be to God.

If you would like to donate to help Lincoln Grayson, go to