We're linked to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday...drop by for some excellent marriage resources!
We would do anything for our spouses, especially when they're in distress, and even more so when the hourglass is running, running, running...
But there are things you just can't do.
You can't keep their spirits up.
You can encourage and support, you can storm Heaven with prayer...
But for your dying spouse, staying positive is a choice, and it's one he or she has to make.
It's not easy, because when death nears, the things one once enjoyed can start to seem useless, mere time fillers to keep the mind distracted.
After all, what's the point in planting flowers you won't see bloom? That others will see them bloom leads to the answer, but the doorway that leads to that answer is a hard one through which to pass...because it requires an abrogation of anticipation, desire, and even 'selfhood'.
In this metaphorical case, you can help. Just say, "Thank you. I appreciate your doing this."
Recognize the effort your spouse is making to keep his or her head up...without referring to it directly. Call it out specifically, and it becomes condescension.
Instead, just thank them for the little things, the things you would have overlooked in that long summer when no one was sick.
That kind of support can be construed as supplying an emotional crutch...but would you make a dude with a compound fracture of the femur walk without one?
Another thing you can't do is give someone else faith.
Dying is scary, and the most important question in life becomes - "Is there really a God?"
It's not "Am I really saved?" When the chips are down, you throw yourself on God's mercy. Period. The legalisms completely lose their meaning and weight.
You can't help by trying to convince. Don't quote Scripture, don't keep the TV tuned to Trinity Broadcasting, and for Heaven's sake don't start talking about what Heaven might be like.
Just be steadfast in your faith, offer to read the Bible together (not stuff about death and dying...the Psalms are good here), and keep going to church, even if you have to go alone.
And there's one thing, above all else, that you can do.
You can listen.
Listen to the description of their day, and be engaged - ask questions. Listen to their sorrows, and listen to their fears.
Listen to the hope for tomorrow, even if it's unrealistic, and never quash it.
That hope for tomorrow is the one thing you CAN give them.