Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Precious Last Days


Photo by Chris Noren in Hawaii
Last Thursday, June 19th, the Hospice nurse read to me from the booklet. She saw the signs that the end-of-life was approaching and of course the Hospice policy is to make death as comfortable and humane as possible. He was dying, so gaunt, but the morphine made it so he wasn't in pain. Please understand this.  

It was time for a relaxing medicine and for morphine--every four hours. My neighbor, Kenny, who has seen deaths in his extended family in the past month, helped, giving those first doses to my husband--even coming back every four hours through the night. Another hospice nurse came out and he gave me further instructions on the medicine such as how to fill the syringes. I practiced this. After that nurse gave me confidence to administer the meds, I did--a very, very hard task for me.

Friday morning, June 20, the Hospice Home Care Aide came as usual. She is very competent but I also helped her. It helped me cry. He was awake with the bed bath and changing of the sheets and so I told my husband I loved him, Jesus loves him and there is a place in heaven, a home that Jesus has prepared for him there. He mumbled/mouthed that me loved me. This made me cry again because I was happy he communicated. My husband has been made comfortable.

Monday morning, June 23, the every four-hour alarm on my iPhone went off at 5:30 am to give hubby his medicines. Only when I woke up there was no breath and no pulse. I gave the medicine anyway just in case.  But again a warm body but no breath and no pulse. Then I called the Aqua Team of Hospice and within the hour a Hospice chaplain and a nurse came out to the house.

The nurse preformed various tasks including calling the funeral director. The chaplain let me talk. He also read from John 14:1-6 where Jesus said we should not be troubled because he was preparing a home for us in heaven. Thomas questioned this, even as every loved one questions death of a spouse.

Thomas: How can we know the way? 

How can I go through his pain of widowhood again? How can I too go to my Father in heaven?

Jesus: I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

This is the essential good news of the Gospel. I have always known that since a child who at seven years of age remembers asking Jesus to be my Savior—my way to God. But it occurred to me that Jesus is the way to navigate the choppy waters of widowhood. His truth is in Scripture. There is life that will continue and one day I will be reunited with all my departed loved ones in heaven.

Then out of the Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship he read this prayer:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we comment your servant, [my husband’s name]. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

After some time the black-suited funeral directors pulled up and put my husband on a gurney and brought him out of the bedroom. I had been carrying dog Ziggy, and the men stopped by Ziggy and myself. Ziggy licked my husband’s face and I kissed his cold face. Then before us they covered his head with the rest of the red cloth and brought him outside to a black van while I sobbed healing sobs. At midday the regular Hospice nurse came; she hadn’t heard the news and we hugged and grieved together. The aide who had come most morning heard the news and she came also later in the day to be with me and we grieved together. Such a wonderful team—those Aqua people. They let my husband slip gently into the arms of Jesus. He was ready.  

So how am I able to cope thirty-six hours later? Prayers of you all and Scripture.  For example, four women and I have been sending each other Scripture each day.  Georgene who regularly comments on this blog started it last year and then Betty came along. Soon there were two more, Pokeberry Mary and Kim. Here is a sample of Scripture I have been treasuring that I am meditating on now.

   When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Psalm 142:3 NLT

   Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT

   You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16 NLT 

In the fourteen years of marriage with my now deceased husband, about half of them were about Alzheimer's. This blog grew along with my faith during those 7 years. I am grateful for those years. I am grateful that my husband is with the LORD now. As a Christian I have that assurance also according to 2 Corinthians 5:8 that to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD.

Wanna Hang Out?
So now I am about to change my marital status on Facebook to “widow”, help prepare the memorial service program and bio, and begin to do grief work. I have been a widow once before and know Scripture that speaks to widowhood and those promises of our LORD to protect me.

Last night I hung out with a family from my church thoroughly enjoying the parents and the four children. I just asked them if I could come over. The youngest wore this T-shirt. 


Hanging with people and hanging with the LORD is how I will cope and heal. Scripture says he puts widows in families—even the family of the local church.

36 comments:

  1. That photo is magnificent Carol! Such a nice post too. :) (sorry for saying nice) I am so inspired by your faith! Mary

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    1. That photo was taken by my first cousin's daughter.

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  2. I have only now read this. My heart is broken for you but your words ring with faith, hope and love. God is merciful and loves his children. Herb is now happy and whole with the Holy One. Donna and I love you, pray for your peace, plead with God to touch your heart, soul, mind, body and spirit. Please contact me and let us know what we may do to help and support you.

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    1. Going to talk on grief Monday night at Toastmasters where you will also be.

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  3. ((((Carol)))) I am so sorry on the loss of your husband, but I am thankful it was a peaceful passing and he is with the Lord now with no more pain and suffering he is enduring. It is hard to grieve, as you know, and I'm sure with each passing day it will continue to be just as raw as it is now with how much you are missing him. But you are so right, God has a very special place in his heart for widows and I know he'll continue to put people in your life that will love on you and help comfort you. I think your husband died with dignity and as hard as it was for you to endure the decisions you had to make in order for that to occur, I think it was the best decision you made to get hospice involved in his care.

    betty

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    1. Hospice indeed were wonderful. Oh yes, I miss him. Yesterday at the house for the lunch after the memorial, I connected with three widows that I can do things with!

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  4. (((BIG HUGS)))

    John 14:27 " Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

    One of my favorite hymns "What ere my God ordains is right" Here is a link to a youtube of a contemporary melody, but I really like it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaeM6a8Iks4

    Here are all the lyrics:
    1 What God ordains is always good:
    His will is just and holy.
    As He directs my life for me,
    I follow meek and lowly.
    My God indeed
    In ev'ry need
    Knows well how He will shield me;
    To Him, then, I will yield me.


    2 What God ordains is always good:
    He never will deceive me;
    He leads me in His righteous way,
    And never will He leave me.
    I take content
    What He has sent;
    His hand that sends me sadness
    Will turn my tears to gladness.


    3 What God ordains is always good:
    His loving thought attends me;
    No poison can be in the cup
    That my physician sends me.
    My God is true;
    Each morning new
    I trust His grace unending,
    My life to Him commending.


    4 What God ordains is always good:
    He is my friend and Father;
    He suffers naught to do me harm
    Though many storms may gather.
    Now I may know
    Both joy and woe;
    Some day I shall see clearly
    That He has loved me dearly.


    5 What God ordains is always good:
    Though I the cup am drinking
    Which savors now of bitterness,
    I take it without shrinking.
    For after grief
    God gives relief,
    My heart with comfort filling
    And all my sorrow stilling.


    6 What God ordains is always good:
    This truth remains unshaken.
    Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
    I shall not be forsaken.
    I fear no harm,
    For with His arm
    He shall embrace and shield me;
    So to my God I yield me.

    Much love and prayers during this difficult time.
    Kerry




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    1. Wonderful words, Kerry, and appreciate the thoughtfulness of your whole family at this time.

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  5. I love you Carol. Please feel my hug and know you are loved. I understand widowhood myself, under different circumstances, yet the loss is so deep. I pray for comfort during your healing, shoulders for your grieving moments, consistent friends to share your memories and to build new ones, and strength and continued endurance through your pain.

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    1. Thanks for reaching out to me, Leggie, for "care-receiver-sitting" for my husband so I could go to church the afternoon of June 1st, and for playing Words With Friends with me.

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  6. Thinking and praying for you, Carol. May Herb rest in peace and may God give you comfort and strength. We're here with you. Please let us know how we can be of support. Hugs.

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    1. Thanks, Maria. You always are so inspiring.

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  7. Love to you, through tears, as I await my own hubby's home going. I'm so glad he gently went from this life to his forever life with Jesus.

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    1. Oh Laurie, you are such a wonderful social media friend as we have parallel lives. It was my pleasure to interview you on this blog and to learn from you. Hugs and prayers continue for you.

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  8. Carol, you are an amazing woman. I am blessed to know you from your writing and correspondence, and I so look forward to face to face conversations one day, and in eternity. The way you have chronicled your caregiving has been a blessing to me and many more I am sure. It always amazes me how Christians going through suffering actually point others closer to the Lord while they persevere. Praying for you at this tragic time, but also rejoicing that Jesus is the way in both our mourning and joy. Through him we have both the cross and the resurrection.

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    1. Thanks for the wonderful affirmation, Aimee.Yes the LORD can redeem our suffering for others.

      I also hope to meet you this side of heaven and the contact with you has been so helpful. Thanks for helping me integrate life and theology with your book, "Housewife Theologian".

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  9. Dear Carol, I am so sorry for your loss . I, too, am inspired by your above words and your faith. May the God of peace grant you great comfort as you mourn the loss of your husband Herb. I will continue to pray for you and lift you up before the throne of grace. Be blessed my friend.

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    1. Thanks so much, synyk. Where do you blog? How did you find this blog?

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  10. Carol, You have so much faith. You are an inspiration to us all. God Bless You. And he is in the arms of Jesus now. What a wonderful place to be.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. Really my meditation of God's Word and the prayers for us have been sustaining. The glory belongs to our great LORD.

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  11. Carol, I am so sorry for your loss. You allowed him to die well, which is a huge grace. I will be praying for you through this grieving period. The Hospice team is amazing. I have been blessed by your words here many, many times. I often felt like I had someone who understood me on my hardest days as I walked this path not so long ago. Praying for peace and comfort. The Lord shatters, but He binds up our wounds. He knows your heart and pain. I pray you will know the peace that transcends all understanding in the days ahead.

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    1. Thanks, Mindy, for praying for my grieving. All the details of the memorial service are finished and my family and my husband's family have gone home now. I did not grieve appropriately when my first husband died. Thanks for praying for me during this grieving process. It was funny, because I kept saying the name of my first husband, not the second husband recently. But the reality of my loss is here. I almost don't want to say the name of my beloved, but am glad he is with Jesus.

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  12. Carol, your words are beautiful, and the love you shared with your husband even more so. God's gift of those words "I love you" from your husband are the most beautiful part of this for me to read.

    Continuing to pray for you, friend.
    Tim

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    1. Thank you. There is much peace in loving a spouse through sickness and health until death do us part. Thanks for your continuing prayers.

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  13. I've been praying for you my friend. God's grace is so evident in your life during these difficult and hard days. I praise Him for that!

    But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thess. 5:14-15

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  14. Such a sad, sad time for you, Carol. But, I know that your love for your husband and your faith in God will keep you and sustain you in the days to come. Love.

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    1. I watched you blog about this (seeing your husband die from Alzheimer's) and took courage from my interview of you. Now I love how there is a new life you have forged.

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  15. Oh Carol, my dear wonderful Carol. You define what a good Christian person is about along with what a loyal and loving spouse should be. No matter how blessed it is that Herb is with God and no longer confused or in pain, the earthly goodbye is still difficult. My heart sings that he told you he loved you. And in some ways, I think he was speaking on behalf of the heavens as well. Thoughts, love, and prayers for you now & always. xoxo Marianne

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    1. Marianne, you always crack me up, but you can be serious too. Thanks for your wonderful affirmation here.

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  16. I prayed for a Scripture for you and this one came to mind:
    "He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in Him." (Isaiah 26:3). I'm praying for you in this difficult time. I am so sorry for the grief you feel but so blessed by your faith in the Lord Who promises us a future and a hope.

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    1. Oh yes, a future and a hope beyond this life. You have been an inspiration to me, Linda, as you take care of your mother.
      Hugs and prayers for you too,
      Carol

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  17. Oh Carol! I am so sorry for the loss you are suffering. I could always tell how much you loved your husband and I wish you much peace. My best friends father died on the exact same day. I just returned home this weekend and am headed back out on Wednesday for a long weekend with just the hubby and I. Mom is with her sister for 8 days so I am enjoying the respite while I have it. It's funny I looked forward to having these days off but I find that I miss her so much I wish she would have just stayed home. but it is important for her too. I have been so emotional this week because of my friend's father, he has been like a dad to me since mine died at 15. I loved him so much and now I wish I had been more there for you during your time of need. I keep you in my prayers and know that I am thinking of you and I am only an email away!

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    1. Thanks, Rena. It is so good that you can have that time away with your husband. A good man is to be treasured. So is a mom.

      Sorry about your friend's father who passed away. My sympathies to both her and you.

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  18. Thoughts and prayers are with you. You made such a courageous journey with your husband. Hope you coming days are filled with peace and comfort.

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    1. Thanks so much, Carolyn, for your condolences. It certainly has been quite a journey. Mixed emotions here, but the LORD is faithful each day.

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