Tag Archives: Grief

Joy and Sorrow


My husband had a PET scan on December 16th, the day before he had his 5th chemotherapy for treatment of his stage 3 lymphoma. We learned the scan showed No sign of any residual lymphoma. We praised God for His gift of healing.  Our joy was off the scale, beyond measurement.  The relief was so immense, I could hardly process the reality of the news. We were singing, “To God be the Glory. Great things He has done.”

A few days later, our daughter-in-law called with sad news.  Her sister in Brazil had delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl, her first child.  After the delivery, her sister became ill and quickly decompensated, slipping into a coma.  Testing revealed widespread cancer in a late stage.  We began praying desperately with all the faith we had for a miracle of healing for this young woman, but our son informed us in a subsequent phone call that his sister-in-law had become septic and had gone into organ failure. She was placed on life support, and all of us kept praying for a miracle.  We learned she died the day after Christmas.

There are no words to describe the depth of heartache we feel for our daughter-in-law and for her entire family.   Our sorrow cannot be measured.

I ponder how one can carry such joy and such sorrow in one’s heart at the same time, as well as all the wonderings.   I wonder why God gave me back my 68 year old husband of 43 years and why He took a young woman from her husband of one year and her newborn child.   I wonder why the God of miracles sometimes grants them as we pray with faith and why He sometimes denies them as we pray with faith.   Faith is a constant.  His power is a constant.  His love is a constant.  With the prophet Isaiah, I admit that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts – that His ways are not my ways – that His thoughts and His ways are higher than mine.

I suppose that I am experiencing a type of survivor’s guilt, the guilt the loved one of the survivor feels.   I have felt this guilt before, long ago, when my second son was born.  My friend gave birth to her second child shortly afterward.  The two of us had enjoyed being pregnant at the same time.  We had anticipated watching our second born children grow up together.  Our first children were best of friends.  We called them the dynamic duo.  What trouble those boys got into.  We wanted our second children to be girls.  My friend got the girl, but I got the healthy baby.  My friend’s baby girl was born with multiple heart anomalies.  We prayed desperately for a miracle for months.

As I relive the guilt I felt for having a healthy baby, I recall the night God spoke to me as I prayed.  It was the first time I had ever really heard Him like I did that night.   I said, “please, God, please heal baby Kirsten.”  I was disturbed by the response I heard in my thoughts, “I will in heaven.”   I slept fitfully that night and was awakened by a call early the next morning.  Our friend’s baby had been placed on a respirator.  Her entire bowel was necrotic.  Later that day my friend and her husband asked the staff to turn off the respirator and they held their little daughter in their arms as she died.

As I wonder why God granted a miracle to my old husband and denied one for a young mother,  God reminds me that His miracles don’t always look the way I want them to.   He reminds me that healings sometimes are completed in heaven, rather than on earth.   Does that make the healing any less miraculous, any less wonderful?  It is not how I would write the story, but I agree the miracle is just as miraculous and wonderful – indeed, I concede, more wonderful, more miraculous on the other side of eternity.   It doesn’t take the pain away.   It shouldn’t.    But it does return me to the place where I can be comforted by the truth that THE HEALER is always GOOD and always LOVES us.   I will chose to believe today that He loved this young wife and mother in her life and in her death.   I will trust Him for Grace to keep my heart intact as I rejoice in my husband’s healing and grieve over the loss my daughter-in-law suffers.

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Tender Memories

My heart is full of deep sadness as I realize I could lose my husband to cancer.  In the midst of this journey to healing or to death, there are unexpected beautiful moments and tender memories.  I am reminded of something Pearl Buck said as she wrote about her mother who wept during the symphony, “life is infinitely sad and unbearably beautiful.”

My husband was going to have a biopsy the next day, and then we were going home to await the pathology report.  I was sitting in the pharmacy at the Mayo Clinic, waiting to get some pain pills for him when my brain registered the beautiful music that was evoking such bittersweet emotions.  I suddenly realized the music was the theme song ( A Time For Us) from the 1968 movie, Romeo and Juliet. *  In a flash I was back in the summer of 1968.  I was a young woman waiting for the young man I had grown to love.  He came to the door and took me on a date to see the movie, Romeo and Juliet.   I think our first kiss was that night when he brought me home.

* You can hear this beautiful song on You Tube   A Time For Us   Andre Rieu –  Theme Song from Romeo and Juliet


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Reflections On Dying Today


My husband has been waiting for the pathology report following the biopsy of the large tumor over his left kidney.   The radiologist who looked at the MRI films thought the tumor was lymphoma, rather than a kidney cancer.   People have told us that the diagnosis of lymphoma might be good news.  They have reminded us that lymphoma is more easily treated than it was years ago.  Someone told me their relative with stage 4 beat the disease and is cancer free.  My older sister beat stage 3 lymphoma when she was 73.   She said, “You tell Howard that I beat it, and he can too.  You tell him that he is going to get better. ”

Even as we brace ourselves and prepare for the battle with cancer,  Howard and I realize that death is one possible outcome of whatever the widespread process in his abdomen and pelvis is.  While we wait, we find we are at peace with that outcome.   I remember some thoughts from a book a fellow nurse gave me in 1971 when I had only been married one year.

The thoughts from Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather resonate in my heart again now when I have been married 43 years:

“She may die before morning.  But I have been with her for four years.  Four years. There is no way I could feel cheated if I didn’t have her for another day.  I didn’t deserve her for one minute.  God knows.

And I may die before morning.

What I must do is die now.  I must accept the justice of death and the injustice of life.  I have lived a good life – longer than many, better than most.  Tony died when he was twenty.  I have had thirty-two years.  I couldn’t ask for another day.  What did I do to deserve birth?   It was a gift.  I am me – that is a miracle.  I had no right to a single minute.  Some are given a single hour.   And yet I have had thirty-two years.

Few can choose when they will die.  I choose to accept death now.  As of this moment I give up my “right” to live.  And I give up my “right” to her life…”

43 years.   I didn’t deserve him for even a day,  and yet I have been given all the days of 43 years with him.   I can’t feel cheated, if I lose him.   I will die today to any “rights”  I think I have on his life.   I open my hands and give him back to The Creator who gifted him with life 68 years ago.

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