Escorting my husband through the valley of the shadow of death, was something I thought would happen many years from now when I was old and feeble. Our life was so happy. We were serving at a church that we truly deeply loved so much and we saw ourselves being there for the rest of our lives. God had miraculously provided my beautiful dream home that my husband, family, friends and some of the people in the church had worked tirelessly to finish. Each inch of our home had beautiful memories of special times of working together. We were growing a lot of our food. We had been healthy. Life was good. God was good.
Then one day my world went spinning out of control. After a relatively minor car accident, Jeff had started having back problems that just wouldn’t go away. Many chiropractor visits, doctor visits and pain medicine weren’t helping the increasing pain. I began to worry as I saw my very active husband start to have trouble walking. The day came, when neurological problems started, and I knew there was something very, very wrong with Jeff.
After a week and a half in the hospital, everyday the doctors came with another wrong diagnosis. Then one day the two main doctors of the James Cancer Center came to tell us that Jeff would not be getting well. In fact, their exact words were that “he was like a loaded freight train going downhill with no brakes.” I stood there and listened to my sweet husband and the doctors discuss what they should do for his care for his last few days here on earth. I felt like I was in a nightmare that I couldn’t escape from. This just couldn’t be real. He had just been so vibrant and healthy just a month or so before! How could this be happening?
It is in between that moment of the end of your strength and the beginning of His, that you realize God’s grace and mercy take over where you are physically incapable of navigating. The deep waters of the deepest trial of your life are so much bigger than you are. But His strength is enough. His mercy is sure. His grace is serene.
I was now being called on to walk my best friend, the love of my life, the man I felt was bigger than life, my husband, to the edge of that Celestial City where we would have to part ways till we meet again in Glory. I felt inadequate. I didn’t know what to do! I prayed for God to give me wisdom and strength.
For those of you that find yourself on this same journey I was on, may I offer the things the Lord gave me during that time?
- Don’t let grief consume what time you have left. Live in the moment, for you have no idea how many moments you have left. Enjoy the time you do have.
- Don’t let the devil have space on your journey. Play good godly music and the audio Bible, which will minister to both you and your loved one. A quiet room leaves time for the devil to control your thoughts and for sorrow to swallow you up.
- Remember that your loved one is very sick and much of the time really does not feel up to talking and doing much. Our instinct is to chatter and get as much talk in as possible. Be content to talk when they are up to it and sit quietly by their side when they aren’t.
- Spend time laughing and sharing stories when possible. Don’t be so busy watching your loved one die, that you forget to help them live what time they have left. The kids and I have some precious sweet memories of our talks with their daddy at the hospital.
- If your loved one is critically ill, they probably are concentrating on the most basic tasks like trying to breathe and deal with pain. Be content to just hold their hand or rest your hand on their arm. They probably aren’t up to long passionate kisses and hugs.
- Don’t let your loved one dwell on the sad parts of the situation. Remind them that this is God’s will for this day and this time in their life. Our lives are in God’s hands. Help them to finish strong for the Lord.
- Sing hymns and read the Bible. This did so much for our family during the time my husband was in the hospital. The very last song the kids and I sang to my husband as we stood surrounding his bed was “Face to Face.” It was on the very last note of the very last stanza, Jeff saw his Savior face to face.
I don’t claim to be an expert or have all the answers, but I know that these things were a tremendous help to us not only at the hospital, but left us with sweet memories to bring home with us to cherish in our hearts for years to come. I am not saying that every moment was beautiful and that I didn’t cry till I wondered how I would survive it. I am promising you though, that if you have asked the Lord Jesus Christ to be your Savior, and your loved one has too, we don’t sorrow as those that have no hope as the Bible says. I know that the Lord carries us through.
Life is still good. God is still good.11