Rays of light in times of heartache.

Sitting with the dying.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death. Somehow I thought that things would be easier. I have so much to be thankful for, but it is still a time of deep sorrow and difficult memories.

My husband was invalided out of military service because of a blow to the head which resulted in epilepsy. As the years went on, the seizures became more poorly controlled, and this brought degenerative damage to his brain. He was defiantly independent, and tried his best to work through traumatic memories from his service, but as the years went on,  he became less able. When he needed 24 hour care, he was admitted to a care home, where they took excellent care of him.

My son, myself and the dog visited regularly, as did other family and friends. However after another 4 years, and a broken hip, he was very weak, and had infection after infection.

And so many times I sat by his bed, with the doctor telling me there was nothing more they could do. All that was left, was to make him comfortable.

So many people sit by the bed of a dying loved one. And we know it is a privilege, time to play beautiful music, to express the things most needing to be said. But is is also exhausting and distressing, watching them gradually become weaker, less able to swallow, the morphine level having to be increased.

At times Colin was restless and agitated, at other times more subdued. At times he knew what you were saying and could respond, with a smile or wave. At times you could give him a little raspberry ripple ice cream- a favourite, and you were rewarded with a wan smile.

It was heartbreaking watching him becoming weaker, shrinking in front of me. On some days, there were rays of light through the window that landed on the bed, bringing him warmth and comfort.

And these rays of light spoke of many things. I was thankful that he was comfortable, and well cared for. I was thankful for family able to visit. I was thankful of the presence of Jesus in the room, ready to take him to be with God, in that moment Colin was ready.

Yet is still hurts- not just Colin’s death, but all the years of suffering he experienced, recounting traumatic stories, and having seizures. All the times when he was frustrated and despondent because of his limitations and disabilities. All the years of behavioral issues, of carers and hospital admissions, and the toll it took on his loved ones.

In the last two years, both Colin’s parents have died, and that just adds more layers to the trauma and grief.

I pray for all carers looking after a loved one, but especially those sitting at the bedside of a dying relative. I pray for the person not to be in pain, for loving and attentive care, for words of love to be shared, and for a peaceful passing.

And I am thankful for loving family and friends, who prayed for us and supported us, and for moments of humour in the midst of sadness. I am grateful that I have been able to honour Colin’s memory by telling his story, and to raise awareness of the plight of veterans. I am glad we could raise money for charity- for the Coming Home centre in Govan, and for Epilepsy Connections in Glasgow. I am thankful for all these rays of light, and hope and love. But it still hurts….

Eternal Father, You know what it felt like for your precious Son to die on the cross. You know what we humans go through, when we sit with a loved one who is dying. We are anguished and sorrowful. Lord Jesus, thankyou that You are there too, with an invitation for people to place their trust in You, and find their eternal home. And that your holy spirit enables us to say our goodbyes, and to find peace. Help us as mourn, to honour our loved ones, and then when we are ready, to find our healing, and new direction. May rays of light always fall across our path, 🙏Amen.

The book about Colin’s writings and poems, and the story of his life is called ‘Loved song for a wounded warrior” and can be purchased by contacting this website or on Amazon. All proceeds go to the two charities mentioned above. Thankyou.

Finding freedom!

Flying in the light.

At this time of coronovirus and lockdown restrictions, life can seem a bit heavy. In the west of Scotland, we are not to leave our houses unless it is necessary, and it can feel a bit as if we are in prison, unable to do the things we would normally do, to meet up with friends, or go to the theatre.

In comparison with many, we are so fortunate. We are not in a refugee camp in Kenya, or in prison for our faith. We have so many things to be grateful for.

I suppose this is where perspective comes in. It is so easy to focus on the things that we cannot do, and be downcast. However God calls us to focus on what is possible, and the choices we can make.

For people who are carers though, I think this is a particularly tough season. Many support services have been cut, day centres and respite opportunities are often closed or limited. Caring for a loved one with mental health issue, a chronic condition or a disability, can be exhausting at the best of times, a 24 hour a day job. Listening in the night to meet the needs of some one who is ill, or might wander, means that feeling of never being able to relax for a second.

When I was looking after Colin, I could never anticipate his needs, or when I should be involved. He was proud and independent- he often didn’t want help. He resented it. Yet on occasion, intervention seemed the lesser of two evils. So hard, as a spouse, to deliver person centred care, and to ensure his dignity. For many carers, your anticipation of risk, means you can’t rest, because you are seeking to keep everyone safe.

If we are feeling trapped, whether because of personal circumstances or covid restrictions, the Christian faith can make such a difference. There is a beautiful verse: ‘ where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ 2 Corinthians 3: 17

We are reminded that God releases us from our chains, He heals the broken hearted, He puts the lonely in families, He lifts up those who are down. He gives strength, insight and patience when it is needed. God is so tender hearted towards His children- He sees our struggles, and comes alongside us, to release us from what binds us, and to set us free. Our spirits can dance and soar, even in the midst of burdens and cares.

And so, dear friend, whatever might be weighing on your spirit, I pray that you can find freedom in the Holy spirit of God, who cleanses and heals us, and inspires us and brings life.

Let us pray, Lord God, at times our burdens are so heavy, we feel weighed down and trapped. But Lord Jesus, You shine your light into our darkness. You forgive our shortcomings, You open our eyes to the beautiful, the small acts of kindness. Holy spirit of God, bring us to a place of freedom, where we can soar like the eagle, and enjoy the exhilaration of the fresh air and the warmth of the sunshine. May we always know an inner freedom, that enables us to be, and to have space and identity. Help us to appreciate and explore this freedom, Amen.