For almost two weeks now, Ellen and I have been involved in dealing with a loved one’s imminent death. Her 90-year-old mother fell and broke a hip. Ever since, the family has gone from one crisis to the next.
We’d discussed where Grace would go after the hospital, what nursing home would accept her as a resident. Would she be in Sun Prairie where Grace lived or near us in Richland Center?
Saturday morning, the decision became apparent after Dr. Jones spoke to the family about what was happening with Grace and her tired old body.
She now is in our home with hospice care coming in twice a day to help (when we don’t have a major snow storm in the area).
Some observations about what has happened to Grace and to us.
Everyone is tired. We’ve all been under constant stress. Sleep has been anything but routine. End-of-life decisions happen multiple times throughout the day. It’s physically and emotionally wearing.
Everyone is hopeful. Because of our faith in the Lord, we have reason to hope. Letters, emails, conversations—all reflect the undergirding hope we have in the words of Jesus Christ. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
Everyone is reflective. Death’s presence in your living room has a way of bringing sober reflection to the forefront. Same with walking a hospital hall. You see how fragile life in this world can be.
Everyone is sad. I’m not melancholy by nature, but I am under these circumstances. And I’m not the only one. Even when a person has lived a good, long life, you still feel the ache of loss as it approaches and then becomes reality. I’ve probably already had my last conversation with Grace on this side of eternity. She still breathes, but at this point, her lucidity isn’t a part of our daily routine.
In all this, the stuff of community thrives. When I spoke about Grace’s condition and soon-to-be hospice care on Sunday (she and Ellen arrived in Richland Center while I made my 3-church circuit), I found several people connecting with me through their own personal experiences with hospice.
Ellen has spoken to all her siblings today. She and I are very aware of the family’s connection and support during this difficult time. Soon enough, we’ll all be seeing one another face to face.
And it’s the difficulties that really cement relationships. When you’ve gone through grief together, when you’ve cried together, when you’ve made tough choices together, you come through with a greater respect for one another and a deeper appreciation for the gift each one brings.
I’m reminded of Michelle Obama’s comments concerning how power corrupts. She noted that power doesn’t corrupt character so much as reveal it.
In the same way, crisis doesn’t build relationships. It can just as easily separate people as cement them together. But crisis does, for better or worse, reveal relationship.
What has happened among Ellen’s brothers, sister, and her since Grace’s fall has taken on a life-affirming, I-trust-you atmosphere. That didn’t happen because Grace fell. It happened because they’ve all taken the time to show up for weddings, birthdays, and graduations; eat and talk around the dinner table; walk on the beach during shared vacations; laugh, fight, and cry together.
Here’s the takeaway.
Life and death happen. We celebrate life. We grieve loss. And both are done best in community.
Invest early and often in healthy relationships and later crises will only reveal how wealthy you are.
What has crisis revealed in your relationships?
Two men. Two eternal destinies.
One common hope.
A poignant and compelling portrayal of heaven and hell, with a powerful look at redemption from the perspective of both the lost…and the saved. Well done!–Susan May Warren, best-selling, award-winning author of You Don’t Know Me.
“Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” was a compelling read for me. The vivid descriptions challenged and ignited my imagination. Tom skillfully laid out a clever story that caused me to think and made me want to read to the end.–Ron Fruit GM, WRCO Radio
Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes can be found at:
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