podcast link for blog post:
Patient advocacy series post 9
John 3:30 He must increase; I must decrease.
I feel like I’ve been writing obituaries one after another these past three years. Obituaries for the deaths of friends I didn’t realize I valued until they were gone. These friends (or should I say freedoms?) seem small initially but can end up being huge in everyday life choices. Individually, these friends/freedoms are abrasively small; cumulatively, they are erosively life-changing. For example, being able to: eat when I want instead of planning meals around medicines; not wear the full-length compression hose needed to take the strain off my heart; choose shoes that match my outfit instead of those that keep my ankles and feet from collapsing; not wondering if the next action or activity will take the pain status from manageable to holding back tears…just to name a few…all of these add up to a day that looks far different than just three years ago…
The latest friend/freedom loss came yesterday when my doctor told me I couldn’t pick up anything over ten pounds because of the fragility of my spine. That may not seem like much, especially since God has given a strong and helpful husband, son, and colleagues, but it’s still a loss I’m grieving today. So this post is my obituary to acknowledge and affirm the death of yet another part of my life.
Saying good-bye to an ability is one thing; surrendering it is altogether something else.
Yes, it’s good to see God give more powerful ideas and words as my body fades. But it’s also hard watching my frame return to the dust from whence I came as Adam’s child (see Genesis 2:7). Yes, the Spirit does burn faster, fresher, and freer in the decline to dust. My mind knows this is exactly what Paul tells me is supposed to happen, regardless of how my heart might feel today (see Romans 7:6). And “therein lies the rub”… for my strength of will is also decaying alongside my body…which I’m starting to seeing as a good thing…
For here in the broken rubble of body and will, I find the strong, solid, steadfast Stone Who remembers I’m dust and reminds me that He alone is the strength of my heart and my Portion forever (see Psalm 103:14 and 73:26, respectively). He calls me to fall upon Him for He is far more than what I need, long for, or even imagine (see Matthew 21:44 and Ephesians 3:20-21.) He gives rest for my dust, freedom for days unknown, and hope for obituaries yet unwritten.
So today, to this Stone and the truths He’s writing on my dusty heart, I hold fast.
And for the day when I can’t hold any longer, I rest in the truth that my Stone holds me fast forever.
Revelation 22:20 The One testifying these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly’”. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Oh, yes, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!
Tips for helping those of us writing obituaries and trying to hold fast for yet another day:
- Please tell us Scriptural truths, not just what sounds good. There’s a lot of sayings out there that sound good but really aren’t. For example, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” As a patient living every single day with far more than I can handle, please hear me on what is true – God gives more than I can handle every day. But He strengthens me continually in the truth that there’s nothing that He can’t handle in and for me (see Luke 1:37).
2. Please grieve with us as we write our obituaries, even if the loss might seem small to you. Small losses easily add up to be big challenges when heaped one by one by one on an ever-growing pile. We don’t need your pity but welcome your compassion. Obituary writing is a temporary but necessary time for us. And it’s much easier when done with friends (see Romans 12:15).
3. Please do ask if you can help – you’re not being nosy or judge-y; you’re being a good friend (see Galatians 6:2). And if we say “no, thank you” the first time, please keep watch and ask again later. For later is when strength has drained away like an emptied bathtub and we’re desperately in need of help (but are probably too embarrassed or self-conscious to ask for it since we declined it earlier).
- And when you offer to help, please follow through on doing what you’ve said you’ll do (see Nehemiah 5:13). Life happens and we understand if you can’t follow through but a call/text/email with a change in plans is more important to us than you realize. Most likely, we’ve told ourselves “I can make it until ___ comes” and rationed our strength to keep moving forward until ______ comes. But if ___ doesn’t come, then we’re not only in the pit of exhaustion and pain, we struggle with the lie of feeling unseen there face down alone in the mud.
I’d LOVE for you to join me on this journey to Jesus, please click on the link below to sign up to follow this blog – thank YOU!
And if you’re looking for a Bible study book to encourage you in your quiet times and in your days, here’s a link where you can purchase Good Ground, Volume 1 directly from Northeastern Baptist Press:
Good Ground, Volume 1 is also available from Amazon, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and other book distributors.
Stay tuned for Good Ground, Volume 2 coming Fall 2022, also from Northeastern Baptist Press! (and for something else new also coming soon from Northeastern Baptist Press…)
Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2022.
2 thoughts on “Writing obituaries”
Thank you for this post. I see my husband writing his obituaries as he continues to deal with cancer. Your posts encourage and comfort me.
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thank you so much for sharing kind words with me! Praying for you and your husband now