Friday, August 30, 2013

Lessons in Loss

         My husband lost his “bestie” to cancer almost 8 years ago.  Charlie fought courageously to the end.  Charlie was flamboyant and loud.  He loved life and lived it to the full.  Everyone who met Charlie was challenged by his upbeat personality and the amazing way he could cause you to be introspective in the midst of even a very brief conversation.
         Charlie had two loves as most of us do, but as mentioned, his were to an extreme.   Charlie loves were; eating and talking.  Well, you say, we all like to eat and talk.  Yeah, but if you were with Charlie and you went out to eat, you would leave the restaurant feeling like you had just had a thanksgiving meal.  And if he came to visit, there were always “Hot Donuts Now” from Krispy Kreme in tow.
Google Image
         And…Charlie could talk…and laugh…and be serious all more intense then most.  He could talk until you felt like your ears would burn.
         Charlie’s diagnosis was throat cancer.  With a constant sore throat he was forced to talk and eat less.  His cancer culminated with the removal of his voice box and he was given a feeding tube.
         Charlie’s two favorite vices were taken.
         How could he live without eating and talking?
         We walked closely with Charlie and his bride, Julia (of only a little more than a year) during his fight with cancer.  Charlie opted to leave the state we were living in to find a specialist.  Our entire family flew multiple times to stay with Julia in her temporary housing and to stay with Charlie in the hospital.
         I cherished the moments I was with each of them.  When I was with Charlie in the hospital I had such spiritual refinement.  I would do what I could to make him comfortable.  Like a secretary in an office, Charlie gave me assignments.  He would have me write letters to his friends. He would have me call his friends and I would talk to them while Charlie mouthed what I should say to them.  I would feed him with his feeding tube. 
         The biggest lesson I learned from Charlie in his last days was even prior to his removal of his voice box.  He said, “people talk so much and they don’t listen.”  I took that one lesson to heart and formed my own mantra, “Talk less, listen more.”
         This week our church family has had to say goodbye to another dear friend.  He leaves behind a young wife and a barely three-year-old child.  What do we do or say to love another mom facing such intense loss?  How do we comfort her? How do we help her? 
         As mothers we try day in and day out to “fix things.”  We want to “organize” to make life more simple and manageable.  However, because we live in this world, life happens.  Some as extreme as the loss of a friend
         We have to walk through this excruciating pain together.  That sweet wife needs us.  Not all at once.  Not only in the first weeks.  But as the Lord leads, let’s show up, let’s be there for her.  We don’t need to know “the right thing to say.”  We just need to be there for her.  We can choose to talk less and listen more.

         I am convinced that the temporary separation of death will be overshadowed by our understanding of eternity.  God will comfort our friend during her loss. He will show us the appropriate words or lack thereof.

Matthew 10: 19, 20
" not worry about what to say or how to say it.
At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, 
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."


  1. Thank you for this Joannie. Sometimes we just don't have the words but as you said, we don't always need them! Xoxo

    1. God will direct our words and actions, we will need to be sensitive to His Spirit. Love you friend!

  2. Amen, Joannie! So timely as my heart breaks for our dear friend's loss. I will take this blog to there to listen and help and only say what the Holy Spirit lays upon my heart. Love you girl!

    1. God is sooo good! We can trust Him in each loss. We need to ask Him how to care for our friend. He loves her far more than we do and knows exactly what she needs. Love you!