Our family’s life journey has included struggle and tragedy.
This journey had at least one good side effect. It made us more comfortable reaching out when we saw a need. We became attuned to challenges in the lives around us and became acquainted with journeys that were new to us but somehow still familiar. We found ourselves pitching in when others held back due to discomfort. And we have always been glad when we were able to do that.
Then, after already surviving what seemed like enough struggle and tragedy for this lifetime, my husband’s cancer returned with a vengeance. Shane — and I alongside him — went on a 6-year medical journey that was too complex to totally absorb, even for doctors at times. Several types of chemo, radiation, major and minor surgeries, transplant workup (and then being disqualified), seizures, medication-induced coma, tracheotomy, antibiotic-resistant infection, broken bone, herniated disk, special diets, drug interactions, sepsis (infection of the entire blood system), dialysis centers, operating dialysis machines in our home, living in hospitals for months at a time, rehab, managing approximately 50 prescription pills per day, and all the endless numbers of complications that come with all of these medical issues unfolded one after the other.
I now can add widowhood to my list of experiences, as well as supporting teens and young adults through losing a parent.
During my husband’s illness and after he died, I regularly found myself consoling people who had wanted to reach out to him but had been held back by discomfort and discouragement.
They cared. They wanted to do something. But, they hadn’t known how or when or whether they might just make things worse by their efforts.
A manuscript emerged out of those conversations, hundreds of pages of experiences and ideas and encouragement for every situation. I still may publish that “magnum opus,” as a friend christened it. Meanwhile, this blog reflects the same goals of my heart, in manageable doses.
We are surrounded by difficult life circumstances — this year in the U.S. alone, there will be an estimated 2.6 million deaths, 1.6 million new cancer diagnoses, and 5.8 million workers still classified as “involuntary part-time,” unable to find full-time work. Meanwhile, the first wave of the 76-million baby boomers has just rolled past age 70. All of these figures have one thing in common:
Not far from each life challenge or heartache are family and community members wondering what it is that they might say, or do, or bring, to give comfort or ease the burden.
This blog is a place for sharing stories and gathering ideas, changing the unfamiliar into something that feels comfortable, and ensuring that your next attempt at blessing someone will truly happen.