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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 48 - Listening to Fear

We're linked with Wedded Wednesday this week; please click on the link to visit, and find some really great marriage resources!

As a caregiver, sometimes the most important thing you can do is listen...and sometimes you will be listening to things you prefer not to hear.

I should be quick to say that they're not likely to be directed against you...while impending death does loosen the tongue, it's still pretty stupid to piss off your caregiver. (I'm sorry for the slightly rough language, but that's the best way to describe some acrimonious exchanges to which I have been a party.)

The hard stuff you'll have to listen to will generally fall into two categories - I'm scared, and my life has meant nothing.

Today we'll talk about listening to fear.

When your fatally ill. there's a lot to fear, and I'm not just talking about the classical fear of death. That's the least of it (and for me, it's not an issue - I've had Near-Death Experiences, but those are for a future post).

The most immediate fear is 'how much more is this going to hurt'. There are levels of pain that are simply indescribable, and that can't be touched through conventional means. (Morphine no longer works for me, unless I take enough to kill me.)

And pain is rightly to be feared, because it can kill you quick, through shock...an extremely unpleasant way to go.

Other fears are of growing dependency, of losing one's mental and physical faculties, and of impoverishing one's family with the expense of terminal illness.

They're all reasonable fears, and not to be dismissed. I was once told, on admitting I was scared, "Well, if your faith was stronger you wouldn't be afraid." That was, I hardly need say, singularly useless advice.

What's needed from you is just a friendly, listening ear. The fears are real; there really are monsters out there. Your husband or wife needs a safe place to be scared, a place to have a shoulder into which to lean.

Yes, for Christians, there are many places where the Bible says, "Fear not!"

But the whole point of the Agony in the Garden was that Jesus was flat-out etrrified of that which awaited Him. I mean, of all people, Jesus asking to be let off a task?

It's OK to be scared. Live that for your mate - with love.


  1. Oh, I so agree, Andrew. Faith is not the absence of fear. It is the trust that the Lord is going to get you through that terrifying moment. And though I agree that God can bring His grace to comfort and soothe our fears, I don't think that is always how it "feels" in the moment. I think you face your fears every single day, so that is faith, in my view, in action. You keep up the good fight, my friend!

    1. Yes...faith in action. That says it all, Beth - thank you!

      Still in the fight.

  2. We all "fear" something (someone?!) at some time or other; and the advice that "if your faith was stronger..." is certainly NOT valuable advice, to be sure! Andrew, never in a million years could I (or should anyone!) ever think that your faith was not strong! Your faith comes through - at least to me and many others - LOUD AND CLEAR in your words...not obnoxiously so, but clearly shows your faith.

    As for listening...yes! We do need to listen to others, whether our caregiver, the person we care for, or others that we come in contact with...so many times, our thoughts are on "what do I want to respond to this with", and we really aren't fully listening. So much is involved in that, isn't it!?

    FEAR! I have felt fear in the face of an intruder who - as I later discovered - was high on drugs or alcohol or something. I was in fear that I would be killed; or that someone else would walk into the situation and be hurt or killed. Yes, I have felt fear and can understand completely that you would fear death and all that is "ahead" for you.

    Praying for you...and for Barbara, too!

    1. You are so right, Barbara...when we are thinking about framing a response, we really AREN'T fully listening...even though we do it with (usually) the best of intentions.

      Sometimes the best answer we can give is a heartfelt, "I hear you, my friend."

      I'm so sorry you had to feel that kind of fear. I'm sort of lucky in that regard. I'm pretty well-trained, and on the occasions when I was faced with a miscreant, it was he who felt...well,not fear, really. Terror might be a better word. My wife says I can be quite intimidating, even when I don't want to be!

      Thank you so much for the prayers, barbara. We truly appreciate them.